Fermanagh's Ryan Jones seeking better forward play in Tipperary
HIS brother Conall’s name was on the score-sheet and in some of the headlines for Fermanagh’s late leveller against Cork – but Ryan Jones’s hand- and boot-prints were all over that vital score too.
The big midfielder intercepted a free kicked out of the Rebels’ defence and then found his younger brother with a kick-pass for an ‘advanced mark’ – which was controversially brought up, and Conall did the rest for a 0-8 to 1-5 draw at Brewster Park.
“We needed the ball back so everyone had to press up,” recalled Ryan. “Thankfully I was able to cut it out and I saw Conall in space. The great thing now about the forward mark is that if you get it to a man's chest it's a free shot.
“They had the free kick and we ended up getting a point off it. On another day Cork would have been able to defend that situation, but Conall showed a bit of composure and we're just delighted to clinch the draw.”
The Derrygonnelly man insisted that a point was not a bad outcome, even though teams look to make to most of their home matches:
“You have to keep chipping away and getting as many points on the board as you can. We'll know as the games are played out who the stronger teams are.
“Look, we've got off to a decent start. We didn't get the win we were looking for at home, but we didn't lose either. A point's a point and we'll go again down in Tipperary.”
Tipp lost their Division Two opener, away to Meath, by 0-15 to 1-8, but Jones still accepts that Fermanagh will have to improve their scoring return if they hope to take any points back home from Semple Stadium on Sunday.
The Ernemen scored just one point before the break against Cork, and that from a free, but Jones insisted that they weren’t deliberately sitting back:
“I don't know why the first half was like that, but we were just very slow to get going. We had a couple of chances early on and we didn't take them. Then we fell back into our shell a wee bit.”
Even with an extra man, after the dismissal of Cork wing-forward Ruairi Deane early in the second period, Fermanagh didn’t really click going forward, although that was more down to wayward shooting, with Jones pointing out that they did create more chances:
“Any day you go a man up you need to make it count. We probably did, in that we got in a wee bit easier for our scores.
“We defend well, but the other side of it is you must get up the pitch and everyone must try and be an attacking threat. That was probably our problem in the first half, we just weren't causing the Cork defence enough trouble. We were maybe a bit too predictable in our attack.”
The fact that Fermanagh recovered to avoid defeat was probably down to their strong start to the second half, when they scored three quick points from play:
“The main thing was getting a reaction in the second half. We hit the first two or three points on the bounce which got us back into the game.
“We needed that because Cork had their tails up and on a day when there wasn't going to be that many scores the three-point gap they had was a massive lead really…
“At the start of the second half we were able to get runners and boys coming off the shoulder. It was a much improved second half and we'll have to take the positives from that and see what we were doing wrong in the first half, why was it not clicking into gear for us…”
Another factor for Fermanagh’s improvement was the supply of ball that Jones and captain Eoin Donnelly provided in the second half:
“We tightened up on their kick-outs. They were very good at getting it away short, but we have to look at why they were getting it away so easily.
“We didn't win one of their kick-outs in the first half. It's something we're definitely going to have address because you're giving a team primary possession straightaway and giving them a platform to get building so we definitely have to look at the video of that.”
Cork looked like snatching victory with a goal on the hour mark from wing-back Matthew Taylor, but the Jones brothers combined to avoid defeat, to Ryan’s satisfaction: “The goal was a killer blow for us after doing so much good work. A draw is a draw. We're just going to have to go again and try a get a performance next week[end] down in Tipperary”.