Win or bust for Fermanagh in Division Three Ulster derby with Armagh says manager Rory Gallagher
IT’S win or bust for Fermanagh in Sunday’s crucial Division Three showdown with Armagh, admits Erne county manager Rory Gallagher.
Three points separate the Ulster neighbours going into the sixth round of fixtures with Armagh topping the table on a maximum of 10 and Gallagher’s Ernemen tucked in behind second-placed Westmeath on eight.
With Longford (fourth) to come in their final game, Gallagher makes no bones about it – Fermanagh have to win at Brewster Park on Sunday to be in with a chance of promotion.
“If we’re going to have an opportunity to get promotion it’s a must-win game for us,” said the Fermanagh manager.
“At the start of the year we always thought it would shape up to the Armagh game being crucial and that’s the reality of it now. It’s a game that we’re going to have to perform in and win if we’ve got any chance of going up.”
Fermanagh had beaten Wexford, Offaly, Sligo and Derry before Westmeath’s second half comeback ended their unbeaten run in Tullamore last weekend. Gallagher says his players will need to find more consistency to force their way back into Division Two.
“We haven’t had a consistent performance in any of our games over both halves,” he said.
“We’ve played in fits and starts and we were fairly dominant in the first half against Westmeath. We probably should have been more than five points up and we ended up being caught in injury-time. “There’s a lot of lessons there for us to learn. We’ve got to do more to win games, we’ve got to make sure that when we’re on top we get more scores. We can’t afford teams to have as dominant a period as we’ve allowed them.”
He added: “The players were disappointed last week - when you go away to Mullingar and you play for large parts of it you would be. But look, we’re back on home turf now and we’ll be looking to put in a much improved, consistent display.”
Gallagher will have Eoin Donnelly available for Sunday. The Coa midfielder was taken off with an injury against Westmeath but has recovered in time to face Armagh.
“He’ll be grand,” said Gallagher.
“He wasn’t able go in the second half but he’s well loosened out and he did a bit of light training on Tuesday night. He should be fine.”
Meanwhile, Armagh travel to Brewster Park with five wins out of five so far. The Orchardmen were denied promotion last year after Tipperary Michael Quinlivan smashed home a goal with virtually the last kick of the last game of the Division Three programme. Kieran McGeeney’s side will be determined that lightning doesn’t strike twice.
“From the first couple of games it looked like there was going to be four teams in it going into the stretch,” said Gallagher.
“Westmeath are playing Longford this weekend and we still have Longford to play. It’s going to be very competitive at the end – a lot of years 10 points would have guaranteed you to go up but this year you’re going to need more than that.”