Fermanagh expecting stars back for Cork clash
FERMANAGH should have most of those that missed their McKenna Cup campaign available for their league opener against Cork this weekend.
Eoin Donnelly and Paul McCusker are both expected to have recovered from injury, while the latter’s brother Declan will be home from honeymoon.
Sean Quigley - whose brother Seamus is no longer part of the panel - is also in with a chance of returning from his hamstring strain, and Ruairi Corrigan will also come into contention.
Ché Cullen has been working abroad but will be at home and available for the tie with the Rebels, while both Barry Mulrone and Mickey Jones should be up to speed after they came back to the panel slightly later.
However, the future of Tomás Corrigan is clouded in uncertainty. Erne boss Rory Gallagher admits he isn’t sure that the Kinawley native, who is now back living in Fermanagh after a spell in Dublin, will return to the panel when his travels end.
“We don’t know the story with Tomás. He had a fairly disappointing year from his point of view. He moved back home and said he was going to travel.
“We’ll focus on the players that are here. Tomás played a minimal amount last year,” said Gallagher.
Fermanagh will make their return to Division Two after a year away by hosting a Cork side about whom nobody is ever sure.
For a county with such resources, the objectives of their recently-released #2024 plan – including to be back at the top table as regular All-Ireland contenders in football as well as hurling by then – are not at all removed from the reality of what they could be.
And yet they only avoided relegation to the third tier last year by virtue of their head-to-head record over Down, and they were heavily criticised after suffering championship beatings at the hands of both Kerry and Tyrone last summer.
Gallagher is expecting a response to their disappointing end to 2018 when Ronan McCarthy’s side arrive in a re-laid Brewster Park on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s six, seven years I’m involved in county football and the league’s an unbelievable, exciting, nervy thing and you always want the big start. I know Cork will want it as well.
“Tyrone gave them a fair scutching last year, Kerry gave them a fair scutching. They have a massive amount of quality players.
“We’re happy enough where we’re at. We wanted to have a freshness to it this year. The boys have looked after themselves well, I wouldn’t say they’re super fit or anything like but we’re confident if we keep training the right way and the attitude’s good, we’ll be ok.”
Fermanagh have also lost goalkeeper Pat Cadden, who has stepped away from the panel this season, which leaves the door open for Tom Treacy to reclaim the number one shirt.
20-year-old touch-tight defender Ultan Kelm also impressed and Jonny Cassidy caught the manager’s eye, while he was also able to bring Tiernan Daly and Tom Clarke back into competitive inter-county football.
“To be brutally honest we weren’t that bothered with the first game pre-Christmas. We’d have been very disappointed overall against Derry, and that’s not taking away from them.
“We’d be much happier overall with the game against Tyrone.
“You know we don’t have an abundance of footballers in Fermanagh and we need to give them exposure. We need the experienced players back.
“We’ll have a more competitive squad and that’s what we set out to have after the McKenna Cup, albeit we’d have liked to have won a couple of games.”