National League Division Two
Fermanagh v Roscommon
Sunday, Brewster Park, 2pm
By John Hughes
You have to go back to Friday 28th June 2019 for Ultan Kelm’s last game of football. That day he was in unmarkable form as Fermanagh dumped Donegal out of the Ulster U20 Championship. On Sunday he was back to his lung-bursting best, this time for the county seniors in a gutsy defeat against Kildare.
The Erne Gaels man believed Fermanagh played their best football in the first-half, but failure to put away the goal chances they created ended up costing the side dear.
“We felt we should have been more on top at half-time,” said Kelm. “We felt they got in easy for a goal, there was a lack of concentration and their player slipped in behind. They weren’t really cutting us apart, we were just switching off at times.
“But generally we thought we were going well defensively, we were going forward well. Ciaran Corrigan and Darragh McGurn inside were making good runs and we were getting joy off them. We were happy enough at half-time.
“We were confident that if we played the way we wanted to play the chances would come in the second-half. We wanted to play on the front foot. The chances did come, but it’s that same story and we need to be that bit more clinical and take the goals when they’re on.
“Their goal in the second-half put us back a bit. We can look at the positives but we’ve a lot of learnings to take from that game.”
As they came off the pitch the disappointment in failing to get anything from the game was etched on every Fermanagh player’s face.
That was perhaps surprising considering Fermanagh were rank outsiders against the Lilywhites, but Kelm says this Erne squad has huge belief in their abilities.
“It’s different playing a game when you’re underdogs, you’re taking shots from 50 yards trying to keep in the game. But when you’re missing shots from inside the 21 and you’re dropping balls short you know the game was there to be won, won convincingly even I thought. We know ourselves in our group how good we are. Maybe outsiders don’t see it in us, but we were coming down here looking for a win and nothing else.
“When you put so much effort in to it it’s little things that cost you it’s a little frustrating.”
From a personal perspective Kelm says he’s in great nick and is hoping to sharpen up his touch with more game-time over the course of the league, starting with Roscommon on Sunday.
“I never really thought of it as a long term injury,” said the Erne Gaels star. “It was the groin and the hip and I was taking it week-by-week.
“I was down in Santry and getting good treatment there and they said I needed to get the break to re-strengthen everything.
“But I’m back now and I’ve a month or so of good training under me and I feel I’m getting back.
“Obviously the full fitness wouldn’t be there and I was a bit rusty today, the technical skills will have to improve over time, but overall I think I’m going well.
“I feel I still have that explosiveness there. It’s just a case of getting the ball skills right again and getting as much football in the legs as possible.”