Fermanagh have enough quality to make big impact in qualifiers
When teams exit their provincial championships, rekindling morale in advance of the All-Ireland qualifiers can prove a problem.
Peter Canavan as much as admitted this in the wake of Fermanagh’s loss to Cavan last Sunday.
His sombre face revealed a manager who is not without his problems and the fact that his starting side showed three changes from the published line-up either hinted at rapid recoveries from injuries or a tactical ploy.
While I cannot be sure which it was, I am still convinced that Fermanagh have enough quality footballers to make an impact in the qualifiers.
They face Westmeath and while the Midlands side are not as bad as they were portrayed in their Leinster championship tie against Dublin, they are still a side that Fermanagh, who possess quite a lot of experience, should be able to deal with.
Canavan is a born winner with Errigal Ciaran and Tyrone and I would sincerely hope that he can galvanise Fermanagh following that setback against the Breffni side.
It was frustrating for his side not to gain promotion to Division Two following their final league game defeat to Meath and salt was rubbed into this wound when the side proved inferior to Cavan last weekend.
A third successive defeat would be unthinkable for a side that has up until now been har
bouring ambitions of moving up in the world.
And if Fermanagh must re-focus on charting their ambitions, Derry, Armagh, Tyrone and Antrim will all seek solace in the football qualifiers.
Sligo will have a big point to make when they travel to Derry after that shock result in London while their hosts will be anxious to erase the memory of that ragged second-half display against Down.
With Eamonn O’Hara having questioned Sligo manager Kevin Walsh’s credentials, the latter can make a big point by plotting the downfall of Brian McIver’s side.
Armagh will be at home against Wicklow who proved sturdy opponents for Meath in last Sunday’s Leinster championship tie before losing by 1-17 to 1-12. Wicklow manager Harry Murphy will clearly relish putting one over the Orchard County in his bid for redemption.
Tyrone have run into a raft of injuries at a bad time with Niall Morgan, Dermot Carlin and Joe McMahon likely to miss the trip to Tullamore to face Offaly next weekend.
Antrim boss Frank Dawson, meanwhile, knows that Louth will form a huge obstacle to his side. Aidan O’Rourke’s outfit surprisingly lost to Wexford in the Leinster quarter-final and will be keen to make up lost ground.
Antrim expect to be without Kevin Niblock who was injured in the Ulster Championship defeat to Monaghan.