Ten years have elapsed since Ryan Carson was hitting the high spots with Fermanagh at Minor level.
But suggestions then that he would quickly surge to further success on the senior stage lost any substance when Carson decided that club football with Newtownbutler would become his primary focus.
Fermanagh’s loss was Newtown’s gain, of course.
Carson played a major role in their Championship success a couple of years ago and has been a mainstay of the side.
Successive Fermanagh managers took on board his talents but Carson appeared reluctant to bring his talents to the county stage.
Current Erne boss Malachy O’Rourke, though, has changed all that.
Not only did he persuade Carson to throw in his lot with the Ernesiders again but through a combination of his tactical and man-management skills he has elicited a series of outstanding displays from the player.
So much so, in fact, that O’Rourke has had no hesitation in plunging the Newtown hero in at full-forward against Down tomorrow.
“He’s ready for the challenge, no doubt about that,” maintains O’Rourke.
Carson’s encouraging early form in the Gaelic Life Dr McKenna Cup was extended into the National League in which he was particularly impressive in some games, notably against Wexford when he fired home agreat goal.
Even though he has been based in England of late, his commitment to the Fermanagh cause has been absolute.
And county team statistician Mark Conway is in no doubt that Carson now has much to offer on the Championship stage.
“There was a feeling that he might not have been too far away in terms of selection for tomorrow’s game. He showed up well in the league and not only can he finish but he can take frees and create chances for others,” explains Conway.
Carson’s experience at midfield, too, could prove a bonus for Fermanagh for whom Martin McGrath and James Sherry will man the engine-room tomorrow.
“He has been very consistent at club level at midfield and certainly won’t be intimidated by championship pressures,” adds Conway.