Fermanagh players have "bright futures" despite defeat: Donnelly

Antrim vs Fermanagh.jpg
Antrim vs Fermanagh.jpg (seamus loughran)

FERMANAGH’S young players have “bright futures” ahead of them despite the devastating disappointment of their Tailteann Cup exit against Antrim – provided they learn lessons.

Whether or not Kieran Donnelly remains in charge of his native county he believes they can bounce back from their second half collapse which saw a seven-point lead end up in a three-point loss, 0-11 to 1-11.

The hosts exhibited inexperience at Brewster Park in the quarter-final match on Saturday evening but the Brookeboro man feels there’s better to come from this panel:

“They are young, there’s no doubt about it – a lot of those players are 20, 21. They’ve a long journey ahead of them. You do have to garnish a bit of depth on that, build on it, and look to push on.

“They have bright futures ahead of them, but we have to learn massively from that – when you’re controlling a game you should be pushing the scoreboard out. We shouldn’t be letting a game like that slip away.”

Kieran Donnelly
Fermanagh manager Kieran Donnelly at Brewster Park. Picture: Philip Walsh

Donnelly felt that poor shooting cost Fermanagh, rather than any degree of complacency, who led by 0-8 to 0-2 at half-time and notched the opening point of the second period:

“You’re always trying to focus the players, be guarded against that type of mindset. I felt the key was we had three or four chances and just didn’t put them away. That just gave them that wee bit of oxygen.

“We felt we were in total control in the first half, managing the ball well, finding pockets of space – they were struggling to live with our energy.”

However, it was Antrim who showed much more vigour in the second half, boosted by six points from their substitutes, leaving their hosts disconsolate afterwards.

Donnelly did not discuss his own future at length – saying only, “I haven’t thought about that. It’s not my focus at the moment” – but he feels Fermanagh can learn from the bitter setback:

“We have to keep progressing but we just felt we left it behind us. That’s so frustrating because we felt we were in total control of the game.

“It’s a tough dressing room. We’re a very tight group, we all came up through schools together. We just have to learn from these days, as tough as it is. There are lessons in every bit of failure.”