GAA Football

Fermanagh can't allow Antrim defeat to define our NFL season: boss Kieran Donnelly

Fermanagh manager Kieran Donnelly wants a reaction against Wicklow this weekend

FERMANAGH boss Kieran Donnelly has urged his players to not let Saturday's morale-sapping defeat to Antrim define their National League campaign and wants to banish the last 12 minutes of the tie from their collective memory ahead of Sunday's trip to Wicklow.

Donnelly was desperately disappointed by the ease with which Antrim clocked up 1-5 without reply in the final quarter of Saturday night's clash to skate home in Brewster Park with nine points to spare.

And yet, the story of this Division Three opener between the two Ulster counties could have been so different had Donnelly's men converted their three goal chances in the opening half hour.

But the Brookeborough clubman wasn't in the mood for making excuses.

“We talked about those goal chances and if you don't take them the team becomes frustrated,” said Donnelly, who took the reins from Ryan McMenamin in the close season.

“You try to force the extra pass when it's not on. On another day they go in and we gain confidence which a younger team needs. But that's something we have to work on, to be more clinical.”

Donnelly added: “We feel we have the players to work with. We spoke about it that we can't let this define us. We need to train really well this week. We'll learn a lot about ourselves in these situations. Yes, it's tough on a lot of the players but we have to respond.”

Donnelly is banking on a raft of the St Michael's contingent who won the Hogan Cup in 2019 to give Fermanagh a shot in the arm, while the manager re-integrated some of the Derrygonnelly contingent on Saturday night after they returned to county duty from their run to this season's Ulster final.

Ryan Jones was the only starter with Stephen and Shane McGullion and Gary McKenna being used from the bench as Fermanagh faded in the closing stages.

Referring to those ill-fated final 12 minutes, Donnelly noted: “Players maybe felt the game was gone. We stopped doing things that we normally expect, so that was frustrating the way it finished. But, again, there's learning in that. We have to play to the end no matter what. Any time you wear the jersey you have to keep going until the final whistle and that's standards we expect and that's something we plan to tidy up on.”

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