Fermanagh play for pride, Laois battle for survival in Brewster Park clash
Allianz National Football League Division Two: Fermanagh v Laois (today, Brewster Park, 2pm)
By Andy Watters
GIVEN the circumstances, Fermanagh's performance against Clare in Ennis was one of the most impressive in last weekend's game. Covid-19 infections had laid low several players, disrupted training and made preparation for the game practically impossible.
Fermanagh appealed to the GAA to get the match moved back to this weekend but their appeals fell on deaf ears and, caught between a rock and a hard place, they made the long journey into the west and, to their credit, fought to the finish.
Pride was all they came home though because a two-point loss to the Bannermen confirmed their relegation and pride is all they to play for today when Mike Quirke's Laois arrive at Brewster Park to bring the curtain down on a disappointing League season for Ryan McMenamin's side.
McMenamin dined at the top table during his playing days with Tyrone but as a manager the Dromore native feels he is getting a look at how the other half live.
“There are two tiers in football and we know that if this happened in Tyrone the game wouldn't have been played,” he said after last Sunday's loss in Ennis.
“But I'm proud of the lads. It's been very difficult. We could have made a stand on this but at the same time we wanted to see where we were at and played the game.”
While Fermanagh battled the Banner, Laois had a chance to get right back into the promotion shake-up. Had they beaten Westmeath, the O'Moore men would have been level with points with Armagh and, since they'd beaten the Orchardmen in round two, would have had the advantage on head-to-head.
But losing by eight points means they are out of the reckoning and need to win in Enniskillen to avoid dropping to Division Three and tier two of the Championship. Quirke will have Paul Kingston back in harness today and felt his side were under-cooked in Mullingar last weekend.
“We were hoping for better but it probably wasn't all that unexpected – the fact we have so little done,” he said.
That game and a week of training will have benefitted Laois and, with much more to play for, they get the nod to win this one.