Erne boss Donnelly believes Fermanagh can rise to the occasion in Tailteann Cup clash with Cavan
Tailteann Cup quarter-final: Fermanagh v Cavan (Sunday, Brewster Park, 4pm)
THE only two Ulster sides remaining in the inaugural Tailteann Cup will renew hostilities as Fermanagh host neighbours Cavan at Brewster Park on Sunday.
Erne boss Kieran Donnelly saw his side edge Longford in the opening round last weekend after a five-week lay-off since their provincial Championship exit at the hands of Tyrone and after blowing off the cobwebs, he is looking forward to what lies ahead.
“The gap was big and I suppose our start last week proved that," Donnelly said.
“We didn’t start that well and it took us a while to grow into the game which was perhaps just reflective of our lengthy lay-off but I think once we got to grips with the game, we started to keep the ball better and started to cause them more trouble and we looked dangerous with a lot of our key men stepping up in the big moments.
“It’s a great competition. I think it’s started well. The games have been competitive and we’re looking to progress. It has the Championship feel about it and our players have trained well again all week of course and they are really looking forward to the challenge."
These counties met just last year in the opening fixture of the Division Three northern section when the Ernemen prevailed by a single point over the then reigning Ulster Champions and prompted the Breffni county to a slide that saw them slip all the way to the bottom tier of the Allianz National League.
However, a team of that calibre is never going to lie down for long and after expectedly climbing out of the basement with the Division Four title they caused a stir in the Championship before eventually falling to a six-point defeat to Donegal in the Ulster semi-final.
They have been rightly installed as favourites for the Tailteann Cup and after a 0-24 to 1-12 victory over Down in the first round, they have now kicked 60 points in just three Championship games and haven't lost to Fermanagh outside of the League since 2010 but Donnelly isn't fazed.
“It’s a bit like the Championship and going into the Tyrone game, the bigger the game the more you look forward to it. You know you want to see where you’re at as well and test yourself against those sorts of teams and it will prove to be a real exciting game I think.
“Look, it’s a local derby and I suppose both teams know each other inside out and we know going into the game that Cavan have had a really good League campaign and everybody watched them against Donegal, realised they gave them a lot to think about so were very aware that they’re a massive task but one we’re looking forward to.”
The Erne county have introduced a raft of youngsters this year and have gone through a significant turnover of players since their 2018 Ulster final appearance with Donegal.
Only seven players who started that defeat remain with the panel while the goalkeeper Pat Cadden is now part of the backroom team and Donnelly has suggested that a run in this competition can only benefit his youthful outfit.
“Another Championship game would be great for our team I feel. We’re a young side as well so there is an incentive there and I think it’s a game that would be good for this squad but we’re definitely not looking past Cavan and we’re firmly focused on Sunday.”