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Courtney so eager to Erne his Ulster debut

 

By John Campbell

Eddie Courtney is hoping to make his Ulster Championship debut for Fermanagh in the preliminary round tie against Monaghan in Clones on Saturday week, yet but for an accident of birth he might well have been lining out for the Farney county.

Drafted into the Erne side by manager Peter McGrath, Courtney has acclimatised quickly to the pace and intensity of inter-county football - so much so, indeed, that his skills are helping to soften the blow caused by a high rate of absenteeism from the side because of injuries.

Yet Courtney, clearly rather surprised by the positive turn his career has taken, is "thanking his lucky stars", as he puts it himself, that he is in line for his first taste of action at the highest level.

"I'm from just two miles outside of Clones in Aghadrumsee, and maybe had I been born a little closer to the town I could possibly have been wearing different colours in this tie," smiles Courtney.

"Obviously there's always a bit of banter, but as far as we are concerned in relation to this game against Monaghan all we try and do is control what is controllable.

"There is new blood in this Fermanagh side pushing very hard for places and keeping the experienced players on their toes. This is a match to which I have been looking forward to - I have been counting down the days, in fact."

Courtney's wide-ranging skills have helped to make him a key player in the Erne line-up of late, but he recognises that Monaghan, who have already copper-fastened their place in Division One, will be a difficult proposition.

"Monaghan will be favourites, but our players are aware that they have to keep showing the form of which they are capable. There is definitely a great blend there and Peter McGrath has been placing his faith in younger lads and hopefully we can repay his confidence in us in the Ulster Championship," adds Courtney.

"Since I was very young all I wanted to do was play for my county and I am just thanking my lucky stars that I am in this Fermanagh squad. I got my opportunity in the league and now I am mad keen to make my debut in the Ulster Championship."

"There is no holding back at the minute in training with every player doing his utmost to impress the management.

"Regardless of injuries, if a newer player is producing his best form alongside a seasoned campaigner then it's going to be hard for the management not to pick him.

"This is a big challenge for us and, while some of my neighbours will be supporting Monaghan, I will be giving my all for Fermanagh if selected."

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