Fermanagh manager Malachy O’Rourke has dismissed suggestions that his team’s dismal National League campaign will could impact adversely on their Ulster Championship prospects.
The Ernesiders made the drop back into Division Three after just one term in Division Two and now face into Sunday’s championship opener against Down at Brewster Park, Enniskillen (3.30) aware that reaching the final, as they did last year, could prove a major task.
But O’Rourke despite being without Barry Owens and Ryan McCluskey, two of the most accomplished players in the province, remains upbeat.
“Maybe we did not do ourselves justice in the National League but I still feel we have the attitude and the talent to do better in the Championship. The fact that we were so close to success has actually provided the players with the incentive to go the extra mile this year,” maintains O’Rourke.
Lack of penetration in attack proved Fermanagh’s undoing for the greater part of the league and now O’Rourke will be seeking more from his front players againts Down.
He acknowledges that his side must take their chances on Sunday if they are to have any chance of marching on.
“We beat Monaghan at Enniskillen in the championship last year and we need a repeat of that kind of performance on Sunday against Down who are a better team than many people believe. We simply cannot afford to spurn our chances this time,” insists O’Rourke.
The Erne boss hopes to confirm his line-up for the tie within the next forty-eight hours and even though Owens and McCluskey will be conspicuous by their absence, he still feels that experience, pace and power will be key components of his line-up.
“We still have a number of players who were there when we reached the All Ireland semi-final in 2004.”