There was an early bonus for Peter Canavan in his new role as Fermanagh manager — and it was not just the two points which his side picked up at the expense of Antrim last weekend.
The opening round of the Power NI Dr McKenna Cup presented Canavan with confirmation that he now has a battery of as yet untested players who nonetheless appear to have the potential to play a part in revitalising their county’s fortunes.
While the Ernesiders’ more experienced platoon fulfilled their duties without fuss against Liam Bradley’s rather lethargic side, brothers Conor and Sean Quigley, John Woods and Eoin Donnelly seized the opportunity to impress their new boss.
So much so indeed that Canavan will send his team out against Queen’s on Sunday with a greater degree of confidence despite his reservations about their overall level of fitness at this point in time.
Indeed, the manager’s focus on this is shared by skipper Ryan McCluskey, clearly comfortable in his role as leader.
“We are a bit behind some of the other teams but we can make up this leeway,” maintains McCluskey.
“There is nothing like playing games to sharpen players up and let us know exactly where we are at,” he adds.
Conor and Sean Quigley are likely to link up with older brother Seamus in the attack again following his spectacular solo show last week against Antrim during which he bagged 1-8 of Fermanagh’s 2-11.
Canavan was suitably impressed but is also anxious to see his team flourish as a unit.
“It’s important that all the boys step up to the mark,” says the former Errigal Ciaran boss.
“Certainly Queen’s looked sharp against Tyrone last Sunday.”
Queen’s manager Cathal O’Rourke acknowledges that his side face a tough task against the new-look Fermanagh outfit who have the advantage of playing on home soil for the second successive week.
“I thought we did well for two-thirds of the game against Tyrone before falling away,” says former Armagh player O’Rourke.
“But we will need to sustain our effort when we take on Fermanagh.”
Donegal manager Jim McGuinness is demanding a much better effort from his players when they travel to Cavan on Sunday.
The Ulster champions slipped up against UUJ last Sunday, their lack of scoring power clearly evident.
Ironically, two Donegal players, Eoin Wade and Leo McLoone, both of whom are very much in McGuinness’s thinking, were outstanding for what was actually a weakened UUJ outfit.
Cavan ran Derry close at Celtic Park and manager Val Andrews believes that home advantage will prove a help against Donegal.
But he will have a clear recollection of last year’s Ulster Championship meeting between the teams which was won by Donegal who then went on to win the provincial title.
“We are capable of building on that performance against Derry and I hope the fans will get behind the side,” says Andrews.
“We have a number of players who have come through the Under 21 ranks and we believe they can come good at senior level.”