Peter Canavan remains coy in relation to Seamus Quigley’s departure from the Fermanagh squad.
It was in the aftermath of the Ulster Championship quarter-final defeat to Down that Quigley took his leave, having made only a relatively brief appearance as a substitute against James McCartan’s side.
“I was disappointed that Seamus did not start but no more so than I was disappointed we had to do without Ryan McCluskey and Shane McCabe,” said Canavan.
“Seamus hurt his hamstring during a training weekend prior to the Down game.
“There were no disciplinary reasons as to why he did not start.”
As speculation continues that Quigley, who proved to be a lethal marksman in the league and played a major role in Fermanagh’s promotion, could have played his last game for the county, the focus has switched to the All-Ireland qualifier against Cavan on Saturday week.
Ironically, the Breffni team is also without its ace sharpshooter in Seanie Johnston whose long-running transfer saga surrounding a switch to Kildare finally came to an end with the move rubber-stamped.
As Canavan prepares to embark on the qualifier route, memories of Fermanagh’s demise against London in last year’s series remain all too vivid.
Canavan, far from being engulfed in pessimism, sees the meeting with Cavan as an opportunity for Fermanagh to return to the winning ways they displayed so confidently during the league.
“I thought during the league we showed good composure and the players that were involved in the game against Down revealed great character and concentration,” says Canavan
“I could not have asked for more from them and I know that they are now ready to prove themselves in the qualifiers.”
Cavan lumbered through Division Three rarely achieving a level of form that thrust them into the frame for promotion — indeed, at one stage they flirted briefly with relegation.
But even in losing to Donegal in the preliminary round of the Ulster Championship they showed resolve and resilience that hinted at a possible improvement in their fortunes — a fact acknowledged by Canavan.
“Cavan will be very keen to make up for that defeat against Donegal just as we are anxious to show that with fifteen men we can match a lot of sides.
“This is a hugely important game for both counties with a lot at stake in terms of pride and prestige,” insists Canavan.
When Tyrone won the All-Ireland title for a second time in 2005 they played ten matches in all, a protracted spell in the qualifiers proving crucial in taking them to the ultimate glory.
Now Canavan wants his side to rekindle the spirit of 2004 and 2008 when they reached the closing stages of the All-Ireland series and the Ulster decider respectively.
“I think the gauntlet is there to be picked up by the players,” says Canavan
“I cannot ask for more than that and we will see where it takes us. Our hope is to continue to play championship football for as long as we can this summer.”
Meanwhile, Fermanagh’s game against Cavan, and Armagh’s game away to Roscommon, have been set for Sunday, with a 2.30pm throw-in.