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Fermanagh facing a fierce battle to avoid dreaded drop

By Declan Bogue

Published 04/03/2016

Home advantage: Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath
Home advantage: Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath

Fermanagh's record in Brewster Park faces its stiffest test this Sunday, with Laois coming to town in a real relegation four-pointer.

Pete McGrath's charges have one win from three games, with last Saturday night's last-gasp defeat to Armagh leaving them desperate for points to retain their Division Two status.

However, McGrath believes their Enniskillen ground has certain fortress-like qualities.

"We've gone 10 games unbeaten in Brewster Park in McKenna Cup, League and Championship and I can tell you we'll be doing everything in our power to ensure that record remains intact on Sunday," he said.

"The two points that are at stake are very, very important because a win next Sunday will ease a bit of pressure in terms of the threat of relegation and for that reason alone I think it's going to be a seminal game."

It appeared that for the second year running, Fermanagh had travelled to Armagh and emerged with a share of the spoils when Tomás Corrigan's dramatic converted free deep into injury-time levelled the scores.

However, Armagh goalkeeper Matthew McNeice wasted no time in getting his kick-out away and Stefan Campbell emerged as the hero of the hour when he thumped over the winner with the final play of the game.

Despite that example of what McGrath termed as 'naivety', he sees more pluses than minuses from the opening three league games, which has also yielded defeat to Derry and a win over Meath.

He said: "I think pluses. I really do think pluses. Players are obviously bitterly disappointed at not getting anything out of the (Armagh) game and when you equalise with maybe a minute left and then you are caught at the death, you can understand the feeling of devastation. You have all been there before, it's not a pleasant place to be."

With that as a backdrop, McGrath says: "The only that matters now is our next game against Laois next Sunday. That's a game we simply have to win and if we bring the same intensity, the same heart and same courage that showed against Armagh, then I think we'll be in a good place come next Sunday at five o'clock."

He acknowledged that with five Ulster sides in the second tier, it was always going to take on a life of its own.

"It's going to be a very tight division," he said. "There's no doubt a point gained or lost here or there could be very significant in the final shake-up.

"The next game is all that matters."

Belfast Telegraph

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