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McGrath looking up as Fermanagh post warning

By Declan Bogue

Published 06/07/2015

Star man: sharpshooter Sean Quigley of Fermanagh with Niall Delargy of Antrim keeping pressure on
Star man: sharpshooter Sean Quigley of Fermanagh with Niall Delargy of Antrim keeping pressure on

Pete McGrath stood on the Breffni Park pitch a few weeks back and promised reporters that his side were not finished for the summer.

He reminded us of that in the wake of this facile win, explaining: "We reset our targets immediately afterwards the Monaghan match and we reset our targets, reset our goals and the goal was to push this campaign as far as we possibly could. The objective was that we want to be playing football in August."

Facing Antrim at home though was the ultimate no-win game. With Saffron tails up following an impressive win over Laois and the Ernemen left to curse a red card that entirely altered the complexion of their defeat against Monaghan in the Ulster semi-final, the formlines were dicey.

Add into the equation the resultant suspension for defensive organiser Ryan McCluskey and the fact that defeat might have set back this group by years, then Fermanagh were very wary indeed.

"When you are playing a team you have played before there is always baggage," said McGrath.

"But today there was great positivity in the way the team played, great fluency, some great scores, some great moves and at no stage in the second half did we look like we were going to be caught."

Fermanagh are back in action next weekend, with a "pleasant but difficult" problem of slotting McCluskey back into the defence now that his suspension has been served, according to McGrath.

"We are very fortunate that when Ryan McCluskey was not available, James had played that role in a McKenna Cup match and in the National League, was able to come in and played expertly. And he is only coming back in from a broken wrist," he said.

"Defensively we were quite secure today and quite strong and organised. Once you have that, you have a good base. Once you have that, the movement and support play and the fact the scores came readily gave us a good platform to build on and play even better."

He continued to add that he was "very gratified by the quality of football today, but we realise that whoever we get in the draw tomorrow morning it is going to be a sterner, more challenging test. That's what makes the challenge".

"Over the length and breadth of the country, people aren't going to be quaking in their boots about Fermanagh," he said. "If people make us favourites in the next game, whoever it happens to be, it's not something we are used to, but it's something we are getting better in terms of dealing with.

"We will see what the draw brings, but the target facing the team and that faces us all now is to build on that and be even better the next day.

"There were aspects of today's display that were not good - the final ball there, we could have had three or four goal chances there today if there was better option-taking. That's the type of things you have to nail against the better teams."

He also knows that Sean Quigley will be a marked man after hitting 14 points here, commenting: "His accuracy and his coolness under pressure was very good. We all know how talented he is and he will realise when you score 14 points you've got to be ready for a bit more attention."

It was a downbeat Antrim manager Frankie Fitzsimons who reflected on a passionless performance, saying: "We were very, very poor there. A lot of boys' heads seemed down and they stayed down. I suppose we will have to ask ourselves a lot of questions after that today.

"We just came out very flat. We couldn't understand that we came out the last day and were just buzzing. But I have no answer for it at the minute."

On Quigley's performance, he said: "He is a class act and they are a very strong team. They will go a long way in the qualifiers."

Belfast Telegraph

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