County setup gives Fermanagh chance to shine at SuperCupNI, says coach
Fermanagh's SuperCupNI preparations took a distressing turn last Saturday when some of the county's Premier players had to be rescued after a training session on the Tullan Strand in Bundoran went wrong.
Eight members of the squad and a coach were transferred to Sligo University hospital for check-ups after they were rescued from the sea by surfers.
Junior coach Denzil McDaniel said: "I wasn't there myself but our coach Daniel Higginbotham did heroic work. The most important thing is everyone is safe."
After the drama, the Fermanagh boys are now refocusing on the competition.
The Premier squad will kick-off their campaign on Monday with a game against American team GPS Bayern in Ballymoney, before facing African side Right to Dream on Tuesday and Down on Wednesday.
McDaniel believes that the SuperCupNI's county structure is vital for the young footballers of Fermanagh. In recent years, it's been argued that county sides could be replaced by the youth sides of Irish League clubs.
McDaniel said: "For Fermanagh, the SuperCupNI is massive. Thanks to the efforts of Ballinamallard United over the last decade or so, we now have a team competing in the Irish League and in the National League at youth level, but the SuperCupNI still gives our boys a great opportunity to play on a bigger stage.
"If the county teams were replaced by a certain number of local clubs then there would be no guarantee of any boys from Fermanagh playing in the SuperCup, and that would be a shame."
At Junior level, McDaniel's boys begin against ClubNI at Coleraine's Anderson Park on Monday before playing Manchester United in Tuesday at the Ballymena Showgrounds. On Wednesday, they face Dundalk in Ballymoney.
McDaniel says his boys are excited about the prospect of playing Manchester United.
"The boys can't wait to play United. They are a fantastic club with a great tradition of producing talented young players, so it should be a great event," he said.
McDaniel himself is a well-known figure as the former editor of the Enniskillen-based Impartial Reporter newspaper.
"I've always been involved in both football and journalism. I played in my younger days and then coached at Ballinamallard United before getting involved with the Fermanagh Milk Cup set-up. I always found football was a good way to get away from the stress of the newsroom. Football has been very good to me over the years," he said.
COUNTY FERMANAGH PREMIER SQUAD: Luke Johnston, Josh Brownlee, Seanie Mahon, Alex Holder, Josh Largo-Ellis, Josh Toal, Dean Corrigan, Callum Jones, Jamie Robinson, Darragh McBrien, Conor Love, Jake Smith, Jake Browne, Jake Irvine, Kyle Malone, Curtis Coalter, Niall Owens, Brandon Horan
COUNTY FERMANAGH JUNIOR SQUAD: Nathan Copeland (Ballinamallard United), Sam McDonald (Enniskillen Rangers), Lewis Baron (Ballinamallard United), Rory Burns (Ballinamallard United), James O’Donnell (Enniskillen Rangers), Conor Burns (Enniskillen Rangers), Jamie Stewart (Enniskillen Rangers), Henry Miskimmin (Ballinamallard United), Ben Murray (Enniskillen Rangers), Ryan Beatty (Enniskillen Rangers), Jamal Tavares (Enniskillen Athletic), Darragh Byrne (Ballinamallard United), Micheal Glynn (Ballinamallard United), Sean Murray (Enniskillen Rangers), Adam Beckett (Enniskillen Town United), Caoilte Hamill (Ballinamallard United), Conor Courtney (Ballinamallard United), Eimhin Curran (Enniskillen Rangers)