GAA Football

Fermanagh boss Ollie Fay keen to downplay Fermanagh favourites tag

Fermanagh's Ultan Kelm
Gerry McLaughlin

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

William Shakespeare was always on the money, and his famous phrase aptly sums up Fermanagh Under 20's most unusual tag of favourites as they lock horns with neighbours and rivals Donegal in the Ulster Under 230 Football Championship quarter-final in Brewster Park on Friday evening.

For the Ernesiders have no less than five of their senior panel to boost their challenge and two of them started in the Ulster Championship.

The five are led by Ultan Kelm, Belleek's own blond bomber, who has been the best Fermanagh player in the senior championship.

He is closely followed by Johnny Cassidy, who was always a key figure for the senior Ernesiders.

Add in the towering Darragh McGurn, Lorcan McStravick and Callum Jones and you see why Donegal are in the most unusual situation of talking up their near neighbours who have a much smaller pick.

Donegal will not have Oisin Gallen as he is still involved with the senior team which adds to Fermanagh's chances on paper on their home sod in Brewster Park.

So understandably, this favouritism is something that their team boss, Cavan man Ollie Fay, is very keen to play down ahead of Friday's crunch clash.

So should Donegal be wary about coming to Brewster Park?

“Donegal are a serious outfit too and they won the senior match in Brewster Park and are now Ulster champions so that will give their U20's a great lift and they will be coming here in confidence, '' reasoned Fay.

“We know is going to be a serious battle and we are hoping that we are prepared for it as well.

“It is all on the day, but we will be very wary of Donegal.

“If the basics go right and things go well for you and that is what you hope for.”

When told about the strength in depth at his disposal he said: “Look, you fear everybody as you might have a good team on paper but it is all about how they perform on the night.

“We only got the five senior lads in last week and Brandon Horan and Darragh McBrien had a long campaign with St Michael's, so it has been a struggle for us to get them as a collective group.”

“Will they click on the night... and we would like to have had a bit more time to get them prepared.”

Fermanagh lost to Sligo in their U20 group and beat Leitrim and Longford in the run up to Friday's clash.

“It was good to get the lads out together for those matches and get to know each other,'' added Fay.

“We have to integrate these senior lads which is a pretty tough task too and we need to get them to work as a collective.

“Ultan Kelm was the best player on the Fermanagh senior team in the Ulster Championship.

“He is loving his football and you would be happier having him than not having him.”

But Fay has a good headache as he is carrying a panel of 38 and there is stiff competition for places.

So Fermanagh seem to have a real chance of getting a rare victory over Donegal.. on paper anyway.

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