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Fermanagh tipped to put problems aside

By John Campbell

When Fermanagh drew with Offaly in their last game in Division Three of the Allianz League, Ryan Jones posted 2-4.

It was a massive contribution by any standard given that his side scored 2-13 to Offaly's 3-10 and perhaps best encapsulated the player's desire to help his side put earlier setbacks behind them.

Successive defeats to Longford and Roscommon, the axing of Seamus Quigley from the squad which triggered the withdrawal of his brothers Conor and Sean, injuries to key players and unavailability of seasoned campaigners such as Daryl Keenan and Damien Kelly all combined to ensure a difficult baptism for new manager Peter McGrath.

But now Derrygonnelly clubman Jones, who can play with equal facility in attack or midfield, believes that what could be interpreted as a litany of woe will help to galvanise the side for Sunday's Ulster Championship quarter-final against Antrim in Enniskillen.

"There is a good spirit within the side and we like to think we have put our problems behind us," he points out.

"Let's be honest. We are a Division Three side and Antrim are in Division Four so it's no surprise that we're not being talked about as title candidates.

"We have been putting in the same effort as other teams, though, and we don't pay too much attention to what anyone says as we are keeping our focus on Sunday."

The notion that Fermanagh are in the driving seat for the Brewster Park contest does not sit too comfortably with Jones, though.

"While some people think we have got a good draw, Antrim will be thinking the same from their perspective.

"I know that they did not get out of Division Four and everyone is saying that they are not going as well as they should be but on paper they are a serious outfit," insists Jones.

Like Fermanagh, Antrim have experienced internal difficulties with CJ McGourty axed from the squad and both Chris Kerr and Michael Pollock taking their leave voluntarily. Yet Jones believes this could serve to make Liam Bradley's side a more unified force.

"There was definitely a disturbance within the camp but I wouldn't be reading too much into that," states Jones.

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