Injured plagued Fermanagh prepare for Longford

Tailteann Cup Round ONE

Longford v Fermanagh

Saturday, Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, 5.30pm

By Katrina Brennan

IT’S been six long weeks since the Tyrone defeat but on Saturday, Kieran Donnelly and his team have a chance to turn this summer into a positive as they embark on their Tailteann Cup journey.

The Erne men make the trip to Glennon Brothers Pearse Park in Longford for a 5.30pm throw in, no easy task at the best of times but it has been made incredibly more difficult given the injuries in Donnelly’s squad.

Team captain Declan McCusker picked up a hamstring injury last Tuesday week, and while doubt was cast over Garvan Jones who rolled his ankle in training last week, Donnelly says he will be okay.

The Fermanagh boss wasn’t expecting his skipper to train on Tuesday night.

“Potentially, he might do a wee bit on Thursday but he has missed two weeks training.”

Sean Quigley trained “a very small amount” on Sunday.

“We have to see how he responds to that. We’ll have to wait until the end of the week to see what his contribution will be but he still is a major doubt, unfortunately.”

Fermanagh have had a couple of challenge games since the Tyrone match. London came to Brewster Park and Fermanagh travelled to Convoy for a game with Donegal. For all the planning and preparation though, injuries have been unforeseen setbacks for Donnelly.

“We had such a great weekend against Donegal, a real good challenge match,” says the Brookeborough man. “A lot of boys are holding their hand up, so we thought we’d have a full deck to pick from. We knew, obviously, about Sean (Quigley) but those other couple of niggles we have picked up has added to it.”

Despite the disappointment of possibly losing experienced leaders like McCusker and possibly Quigley, Donnelly believes this is a chance for others in his squad to step up.

“Sometimes when that happens and you have injuries, it does give boys a chance that deserve a chance. Normally, they’re not getting in due to games coming thick and fast and players just playing well that are in that position. So, it will give them a chance to play in a Championship game for their county.

“I would have a lot of trust in a lot of young players that we brought in this year and brought in recently, so it’ll definitely open the door to some players to impress.”

This weekend, it would be no surprise if we see Ultan Kelm back in Donnelly’s starting 15. The talented attacking wing half back is returning from a long term injury but played a half of football against Donegal recently and Donnelly says,

“Ultan will be pushing, he has trained well. He’s still off his normal levels that he would be for a full game but he has trained well and been a massive part of the squad and the quality he brings is always good.”

Overall, the Fermanagh manager says there’s great anticipation around the inaugural Tailteann Cup competition; “We’re looking forward to the game, we know it’s very tough being away from home.

“The mood has been good from the very off and the players have responded to the challenge and we’re looking forward to getting another championship game under our belt.”

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