Two of Ulster’s most high-profile players will get the opportunity to make up for lost time this coming weekend.
Back in action: Ryan McCluskey has recovered from injury and will be in the Enniskillen Gaels side to face St Patrick’s DonaghTWO of Ulster’s most high-profile players will get the opportunity to make up for lost time this coming weekend.
Fermanagh duo Ryan McCluskey and Martin McGrath have endured protracted spells on the sidelines because of injury but now find themselves presented with the chance to win a club championship honour.
A serious eye injury that necessitated delicate surgery meant that McCluskey missed Fermanagh’s entire championship campaign while McGrath was only returning to full fitness following a battle against tendonitis when he lined out against Down in the Ulster series and against Cavan in the All-Ireland qualifiers.
The Ernesiders lost both games but now the two players, both of whom have given fine service to their county, have their sights set on club glory.
McGrath has recaptured his best form and is currently the driving force in a St Joseph’s, Ederney side which is sitting on top of Division One of the All-County League while McCluskey made a welcome return to action for Enniskillen Gaels against Aughdrumsee just recently and will line out against St Patrick’s Donagh in the championship quarter-final on Saturday.
Ederney meanwhile will confront Erne Gaels on Sunday evening at Irvinestown.
With reigning champions Roslea having been floored by a last-minute Johnny McGurn goal from a penalty last weekend which gave Derrygonnelly a shock victory, the title race has been thrown wide open.
And while teams are now even more strongly focussed on the title, Fermanagh manager Peter Canavan, who is on holiday, will be fully briefed on his return on the performances of a substantial number of individual players by his No 2 Enda Kilpatrick and liaison officer Ger Tracey.
“There is tremendous interest within the county in the championship and the fact that all our frontline players will be in action adds to the competition.
“It had been thought that Roslea might win the title again but now that they are out of the hunt, a lot of other sides will fancy their chances.
“We will be taking in several games this weekend and reporting back to Peter upon his return,” points out Tracey.
McGrath, who along with McCluskey was in the Fermanagh side that lost to Mayo after a replay in the 2004 All-Ireland semi-final, has given fresh impetus to Ederney’s challenge while McCluskey’s commanding presence brings a further element of authority to the Enniskillen Gaels defence.
“It’s very heartening to see these two fine players back in club championship action,” adds Tracey.
“They were not able to turn out as often as they would have wished for Fermanagh this year and it was particularly heartbreaking for Ryan to miss the Ulster Championship and All Ireland qualifier as he had been due to captain the side.”