Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Joe Kernan: It’s a big task but Canavan can lift Fermanagh

During his playing career Peter Canavan faced up to many big challenges. But it is doubtful if any of these can compare to the task he has undertaken with Fermanagh.

He could hardly have chosen a more arduous assignment for his baptism as a county team manager yet the two-time All-Ireland winner appears unperturbed by the nature of his mission.

Fermanagh are in the doldrums, their plight self-inflicted to some extent. Now it is up to Canavan to revive their fortunes and rekindle interest in a county which has wallowed in depression for months.

He has certainly nothing to lose — Fermanagh are at rock bottom, their morale seriously damaged and their playing resources considerably diminished.

Yet Canavan’s in-depth knowledge of football, his intense desire to achieve success in whatever he does and his inherent charisma will prove important elements in his new role.

He may have hopped over the county border to take his managerial baptism at the higher level but I cannot help thinking that somewhere along the line he will surely relish the chance to manage his native Tyrone.

Mickey Harte remains in situ there and rightly so given his magnificent track record. But Canavan will, I feel, at some point in the future be anxious to assume command of his native county. In the interim, he will have to work very hard to prove himself with Fermanagh and he will also require a rub of the green in the job.

The fact that a number of players withdrew from the Erne squad earlier this year signalled the beginning of the end for his predecessor John O’Neill and now Canavan must strive to restore stability within Fermanagh football circles.

He will undoubtedly have the whole-hearted backing of the county board and I would think that supporters, who have of late been nothing more than luke-warm in their fervour for the county, will come back on board with a greater degree of enthusiasm.

Canavan will need time in which to put his own structures in place and ignite a feel-good factor within his squad. If he can get this much done in the near future then Fermanagh will have much greater cause for optimism.

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