Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Canavan aims to heal hurt in Fermanagh

New Fermanagh boss Peter Canavan wants to change the side's recent fortunes

The dawn of a new era. That is how the appointment of Peter Canavan as the new manager of Fermanagh is being viewed.

The Tyrone legend is now stepping over the boundary of his native county to face the daunting responsibility of restoring credibility to his beleaguered natives.

The 40-year-old two-time All-Ireland winner may be wet behind the ears in terms of top-flight management but a stellar CV as a player coupled with his encyclopedic knowledge of football at all levels and a generous ration of charisma certainly fortify his credentials for his new posting.

When John O’Neill stepped down after seven turbulent months at the helm, the Fermanagh county board was left with the option of appointing from within again or embracing a high-profile ‘outsider’.

In time, it became clear that Canavan, from ‘just down the road’, would tick most of the boxes applicable to assuming one of the most demanding roles in football.

Indeed, it is safe to assume that the ex-Errigal Ciaran boss – he won six Tyrone championship medals with the club as a player from 1990 until 2007 – has formally inherited what one observer last night referred to as “a monumental headache”.

Canavan, though, obviously does not see things that way – or if he does, he is not prone to articulating apprehension.

Instead, he will today embark on what is a fresh chapter in his illustrious career spurred by a ringing endorsement from Fermanagh chairman Peter Carty and other members of the county board.

“We are delighted to have Peter as our new manager. His track record as a player speaks for itself and we feel he will gain the respect and affection of our players. We want to move forward in positive mode and put 2011 behind us,” declared Carty.

The chairman revealed shortly after John O’Neill had stepped down that Fermanagh would not be rushed into making a new appointment – now patience has certainly proven to be a worthy virtue given his board’s significant capture.

County PRO Deirdre Donnelly confirmed that the board will be right behind Canavan and suggested that he can restore unity and optimism within a county which has in the recent past been engulfed in rancour and pessimism.

“Obviously the Fermanagh side has struggled this year but the hope now is that Peter will be able to persuade players who have left the panel to return and supplement these with fresh blood. Don’t forget there are several players who have been very loyal to the cause and they will continue to have a big part to play, we feel,” said Donnelly.

Certainly one of Canavan’s priorities will be seen as bringing back into the fold those who distanced themselves from the green jersey this year.

A number of these players including James Sherry, Tommy McElroy, Peter Sherry and Niall Bogue had played in the Ulster final against Armagh just three years ago and indeed were among the best in Ulster in their respective positions.

The close season means that Canavan is prevented from overseeing collective training sessions until January 1st but he intends to make the McKenna Cup the launch pad for what will be a new, ambitious Fermanagh side.

February will see the Ernesiders embark on their National League campaign in the relative anonymity of Division Four – an alien environment indeed for the much-decorated Canavan – and by the end of this competition the manager hopes that a marked improvement in the county’s fortunes will already be in evidence.

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