Kieran Donnelly hoping Fermanagh can learn from Armagh defeat

The Ernemen host Oisin McConville’s Wicklow in their Tailteann Cup opener

Conor Turbitt celebrates scoring the first Armagh's three first half goals during Sunday's Ulster Championship win over Fermanagh. Picture by Philip Walsh
Conor Turbitt celebrates scoring the first Armagh's three first-half goals during the Ulster SFC win over Fermanagh last month. Picture: Philip Walsh
Tailteann Cup Group 3, round one: Fermanagh v Wicklow (today, Brewster Park, 3pm)

FERMANAGH will be hoping to banish the blues of a pretty heavy defeat to Armagh in the Ulster SFC as they lock horns with Wicklow in the first round of the Tailteann Cup in Brewster Park on Saturday.

Boss Kieran Donnelly does not lay any store in Fermanagh’s poor showing in last year’s competition though as they prepare to face Oisin McConville’s men.

“We are just taking the next game on its merits, and it is all we can do and we have trained really well in the past few weeks and the response has been good,” he said.

“There is an appetite in the squad and my only real focus is on the Wicklow game and how we can get on the right side of a result, and we feel that our preparation has been good.”

And past defeats are not a motivator for Donnelly.

“I have been in management for 30 years and every game takes on a life of its own.

“It can hinge on key moments, and we take every game on its merits. This is a new team and an evolving team with a lot of younger players.

“All you can do is look to the next game and the next challenge and see how you can get better.”

When asked what were the main areas that Fermanagh need to improve on from the Armagh game, he said: ”Well the obvious, our use of possession in that first 15-20 minutes was poor.

“We coughed up possession and we were playing a very aggressive, physical team who are going to put you under pressure.

“We also went down a man and everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

“When we went down to 14 men, we conceded 2-2 and Armagh are a quality team and a top-six team but we are very clear that we have to manage the ball better.

“Bigger teams put you under more pressure and when we got our shape, and we were more organised Armagh found it difficult to break us down.”

But Donnelly is well aware of the big challenge the Garden County will pose.

“They are a big physical team and beat Westmeath and should have beaten Kildare and are back-boned by a successful U20 team so they won’t lack confidence either.

“They are very organised defensively and they are going to pose a lot of challenges for us, and we have never had it easy against Wicklow.

“Oisin McConville gives them that bit extra too and there is an Ulster touch to them as well with Mark Doran and they will know us well.”

Ryan Lyons will out for six or seven weeks but Donnelly says that a few lads have come back to boost the squad.

“Darragh McGurn had a bad injury, and he is back training well and a big plus for us and has a huge physical presence.”