Fermanagh trying Pat Cadden as a goalkeeping option
FERMANAGH could be the latest county to convert an outfield player to become their goalkeeper.
The Irish News understands that St Patrick's, Donagh forward Pat Cadden has been trying out in nets for the Ernemen in training recently, despite having been scoring well with his club this year.
Cadden's clubmante Eamon Maguire, a star of Fermanagh's run to the All-Ireland semi-final and replay in 2004, is also back on the county scene for the first time since stepping away a decade later than that.
As regards Cadden's role, new Fermanagh boss Rory Gallagher, who has brought his brother Ronan – the former county 'keeper – in as goalkeeping coach, is seeking competition for the number one jersey following the inter-county retirement of Chris Snow.
Devenish clubman Thomas Treacy remains the top choice for the first name on the team-sheet but Cadden is an interesting option. Having been involved previous with his county as a wing-forward, Cadden has been impressing as a soccer custodian, keeping goal for Enniskillen Town in the Fermanagh & Western League.
Fermanagh's neighbours Cavan have had success in recent seasons by converting Raymond Galligan from an outfield player to their main county goalkeeper.
There are two other young goalkeepers in training with Fermanagh's expanded squad at the moment, namely Gary Doherty of Belcoo and Jack Kelly of county champions Derrygonnelly Harps. However, the latter was largely kept out of his club side this year by veteran Dermot Feely, although Kelly did replace his injured colleague in the dramatic Ulster Club SFC semi-final replay against Cavan Gaels.
In another slightly surprising development, it seems that veteran Ryan McCluskey is set to continue his inter-county career into his 37th year. Enniskillen Gaels clubman 'Clucker' began his senior championship involvement with Fermanagh on May 13 2001, a fortnight before Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton, making McCluskey inter-county football's current longest servant.
At the other end of the age scale, McCluskey's Gaels clubmate Eoin Beacom, who is a midfielder on the promising Enniskillen minor team that has reached the semi-finals of the St Paul's tournament in Belfast, has been called up to try out with the county seniors.
His older brother Cathal, a forward who plays his club football with nearby Coa, is in contention after previously having been on the senior scene.
Another pair of brothers are also in training: as expected, Derrygonnelly duo Ryan and Conaill Jones are back in the county fold after helping the Harps complete a hat-trick of Fermanagh SFC titles.
However, their club colleague, defender Michael Jones is not expected to continue his involvement with the Ernemen, making for only three players from the county champs in the set-up at present.
The Gallagher brothers and the rest of the new Fermanagh management team – Tyrone legend Ryan 'Ricey' McMenamin and former Erne player Shane McCabe – will hope that rumours about defensive star Che Cullen going off travelling turn out not to be true.
Fermanagh are training hard in preparation for the McKenna Cup, having reached the semi-finals of that competition in five of the past six seasons.
In next year's Section C they will meet Monaghan, Queen's University, and the county that Rory Gallagher managed in recent years, Donegal.
After that, they will aim to bounce back up from the National Football League's Division Three, where they will meet fellow Ulster sides Armagh and Derry, along with Longford, Offaly, Sligo, Westmeath, and Wexford.