Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Martin has sights on 'real' success

Martin McGrath can fire up Fermanagh

Martin McGrath has toiled at the coal face for Fermanagh for the best part of a decade.

And while his input has comprised lashings of skill coupled with unstinting endeavour, the trophy cabinet at his Ederney home is still capable of accommodating many more trophies and medals.

"I still consider it a great honour to pull on the Fermanagh jersey," says McGrath as he prepares for Saturday's Ulster semi-final against Derry. " But obviously any player likes to have a couple of medals to show for the time he spends with any team."

By general consent, McGrath is one of the best midfielders of the modern era, a player who on occasions in the past has almost single-handedly sustained his side when the going was not just tough but next to impossible.

The modest McGrath, not surprisingly, plays down what has been an immense contribution to the Fermanagh cause.

"I am only one player in the team. There have been a lot of boys over the years who have given great service to the county. The current crop of players is as good as we have ever had," says McGrath.

When the Erne side roared through to the All Ireland Championship semi-final four years ago £ they were eventually beaten by Mayo after a replay £ McGrath represented the heartbeat of the side alongside Liam McBarron in the central area.

Since then he has augmented his reputation and this year, with promotion to Division Two of the National League having already been secured, McGrath is particularly keen to see Fermanagh succeed in Ulster.

To do that they will have to overcome Derry on Saturday and then contemplate a provincial final against either Down or Armagh.

"To be facing Derry is a huge game for us. You look at their side and you see quality everywhere. They have strength, power and skill," says McGrath, a Quinn Direct company representative.

He is no stranger to combat with Derry but now, in the intense heat of a championship context, he believes that Fermanagh's credentials will come under the closest scrutiny.

"I think people were a wee bit surprised when we beat Monaghan but it will undoubtedly take an even bigger performance if we are to get past Derry, " observes McGrath.

"Fermanagh have been regarded as something of a cinderella team, in terms of Ulster Championship success, but I think this year we have as good a chance as anyone. We have no psychological hang-ups, our fitness levels are good and I think we showed during the league and against Monaghan in the Championship that we have an effective game-plan."

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