Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Fermanagh star Eoin aiming to win race for fitness

Fermanagh's Eoin Donnelly is hoping to be involved in the squad again for Sunday's championship clash with Cavan

Fermanagh star Eoin Donnelly is in a race against time to declare full fitness ahead of their championship opener this Sunday against Cavan in Brewster Park.

Earlier in the year Donnelly sustained a fracture in his leg after he was on the wrong end of a tackle against Monaghan in their league defeat.

Since then he has been rehabilitating and recently got the all-clear to resume full contact work.

During a training trip to Cork a couple of weekends ago, he was brought on in a challenge match against the Rebels and is now trying to force himself into contention for a starting place in the derby encounter.

While laid up, Donnelly admits to a certain level of boredom, watching, "Jeremy Kyle and stuff like that.

"I had a programme to keep me active. There was still a certain amount I could do, like core and upper-body stuff. Cardio work I could try and do as well.

"Once I got my cast off I could get on the bike but when I had my cast on it was more like getting your lungs working through your arms.

"I missed a lot of running when I was out that the boys have been doing so they have come on a good bit.

"I have to get back out at the running; my first target has to be to catch up with the goalkeepers!"

In the absence of captain Ryan McCluskey and vice-captain Barry Owens earlier in the league campaign, Fermanagh manager Peter Canavan made him team captain.

It was a serious vote of confidence for a player who had never played county football before Canavan's first day out in charge, a McKenna Cup win over Antrim on a gloomy January day last year.

Coming from the Coa O'Dwyers club, it was a sign that reputations would mean nothing to Canavan and that he was moulding his own team.

From that day forward, Donnelly had started every competitive match for Canavan until he sustained that injury against Monaghan. On being handed the captaincy, Donnelly puts it into context.

"I think Peter was smart in what he did, he just picked somebody who was training hard and setting a good example for some of the boys to work harder or something," he said.

"Obviously there are lads like (Marty) McGrath, Clucker (Ryan McCluskey) and boys that are there to motivate everybody, so I wasn't picked as a dictator captain, it was more of going out to do your own thing."

Fermanagh go into Sunday with numerous injury problems, including the influential Daryl Keenan, but in terms of fitness are way ahead of where they found themselves this time last year.

"Last year's pre-season was a bit rushed," recalled Donnelly, as Canavan and his backroom team only landed the job in late November, 2011.

While they secured promotion in the league, they fell short of two consecutive promotions this season, but there is real ambition in the squad, according to Donnelly.

"We would like to bring success to Fermanagh. We have to improve upon last year, we want to be able to look back and say there has been progression, that we have put in more effort and done harder training."

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