A BULLISH Pete McGrath believes that his Fermanagh side can stun Mayo in Castlebar this weekend – but only if they eradicate the self-doubt that undermined their loss to Donegal.
The Ernemen’s reward for their win over Wexford is a round 2B Qualifier trip to face Stephen Rochford’s side on the weekend of July 9.
Galway last week dethroned Mayo as Connacht champions for the first time since 2010 but, having reached All-Ireland finals in 2012 and 2013, and been beaten in semi-final replays in the last two years, the hosts will be favourites to get back on track.
Having taken the positives from their Ulster Championship display against Donegal, McGrath believes that Fermanagh can cause a major upset.
“Sometimes when teams are going in against really top teams – and Mayo are a top team – quite often when you look at a game like that, as we did with the Donegal game, when you add up the bits and pieces, we genuinely believe we were not that far away.
“Sometimes there’s that bit of a regret that you didn’t grasp the opportunity, that there was that wee bit of self-doubt in players’ minds.
”It’s imperative going to Castlebar that there’s no self-doubt. You respect Mayo for what they’ve done, yes, but if you go there in awe of them or to pay homage to them and to allow them to do what they like with us to get their own summer back on track, that would be very disappointing.
“That will not be our attitude. We’ll go there knowing that if we turn up and play to our potential, we can be in with a serious chance of winning that game. We have to get our performance right, and the attitude has to be 100 per cent right,” said the veteran Fermanagh boss.
Fermanagh would have gone in at half-time leading Donegal three weeks ago had Sean Quigley’s injury-time penalty not been saved by Mark Anthony McGinley.
And when the 14 Tír Chonaill men turned on their standard third-quarter blitz, the underdogs paid the price. But McGrath feels that learning the lessons of that game could propel his side, who reached last year’s All-Ireland quarter-finals, on to new heights.
“I’d put Donegal up there with Mayo, if you’re talking about that top three or four in the country. Most people would have them in that bracket.
“We went to Ballybofey and slugged it out with Donegal. I know at times we were a bit naïve and made mistakes that we paid for, but when we reflected on the game, we lost by seven points and we had a lot of opportunities that we’d normally take and we didn’t.
“When you quantified it, we weren’t that far away.
“If we learn from the Donegal game, take the lessons from it, and we really believe in ourselves then we have to say we shouldn’t be far away from Mayo if we perform.”