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Pete McGrath believes Fermanagh have learned a lesson

By Declan Bogue

Ten minutes after the game, Fermanagh full-forward Sean Quigley still couldn't believe they had lost, after Ryan McCluskey's goal-bound shot was hooked off the line by retreating defender Kevin O'Boyle.

"We nearly nicked it," Quigley recalls in a daze. "I was gone, I was away celebrating the win when I saw it coming back out. It beat the keeper and was rolling into the corner and I thought it was going to be a fairytale ending ... "

Shortly after, his manager Pete McGrath shook his head and muttered ruefully: "I thought the ball was in the net..."

And while the consensus would proclaim a Fermanagh win as luck, McGrath would beg to differ. He said: "I think any team that keeps going deserves a break.

"We kept going and we got a break in the last seven or eight minutes which put us in that position and it would have been very easy to down tools and go through the motions.

"They didn't do that. They kept going and kept going and I give the team great credit for that.

"In the end, it could have been pure delight rather than agonising despair, but those are the margins."

Fermanagh have endured some sickening defeats in the last few years, but they had a glimpse of what it must be like to pull the rug from under the feet of opponents with that final chance.

Now, they must bury their disappointment and look to the qualifiers for salvation.

McGrath certainly feels that as a manager, he will know about his panel in time for the backdoor.

He will certainly know more about his substitute's bench, some of whom contributed richly when introduced at the weekend.

"We picked the team that is the best to start, but the one thing we were sure of was that we had genuine authentic people that could come on and contribute," the former Down boss said.

"It wasn't a question of 1-15 and then the cupboard was bare. We knew we had people that could come on, people that could do a job if needed and that manifested itself."

It was a tough baptism for some of the younger members of the panel, but this adversity will teach them a strong lesson, according to McGrath

"I was saying to the players that over the last couple of months I have been convinced and I still am, that this is a talented group of players that have things to learn, have a long enough road to go down, but the spirit is there, the talent is there," he insisted.

"I think what we need is to win a few matches to get real belief and real confidence and we have to build on the positives from this defeat."

He vowed: "Let's take the positives, take the defeat on the chin and move on.

"Let's try and squeeze every last drop out of this season that we can."

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