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Underdog tag rests easily with confident Fermanagh side

By Declan Bogue

Published 28/07/2015

Fermanagh's Tomas Corrigan shone against Westmeath at the weekend
Fermanagh's Tomas Corrigan shone against Westmeath at the weekend

Fermanagh may be priced at 20/1 for their All-Ireland quarter-final game against Dublin this Sunday, but that does not deter their players from setting their sights on a win.

That attitude is encapsulated by the defiance of Tomás Corrigan over the last couple of games. When the Ernemen were struggling to make an impression on the scoreboard against Roscommon a fortnight previous, Sean Quigley was relieved of his free-taking duties.

Corrigan went on to convert two frees, and a sideline kick that gave their revival a huge spurt. It was an evening that they simply refused to be beaten, something that Corrigan reinforces.

"Sport is about winning," he said.

"That is something we set out at the start of this year, to target every match and aim to win it. Coming up short just won't do any more.

"We've had more moral victories than anyone in Ireland. It just gets to the stage where they're useless.

"You're sick of them. You're sick of getting a pat on the back. You put in too much effort to just get a pat on the back."

The odds on a Dublin win, 1/200, is not something that appears to trouble the Fermanagh mindset either.

"We're used to no-one giving us a hope. We went to the league final and no-one gave us a hope. We played Roscommon and no-one gave us a hope, so that will be familiar territory for Fermanagh," the Kinawley Brian Boru clubman said.

"We are well used to that sort of vibe, but we will definitely not be going to Croke Park to make up the numbers. Sport is about winning and we will be aiming to win."

Erne manager Pete McGrath faces a dilemma this week. Last Saturday, the highest-scoring forward in this year's Championship, Sean Quigley, was having another off-colour evening from the dead ball.

Although he had amassed a stunning 2-26 before they met Westmeath, Quigley was taken off frees again for Corrigan after clipping three wide.

Corrigan then went on to inspire Fermanagh with three points in three minutes prior to half-time.

He would finish with a personal tally of 1-7, his goal coming from a perfect lob over Gary Connaughton. But the debate on who will be the freetaker will be settled this week.

"We'll talk about it at training on Tuesday and see. Sean has been hitting them very well all year but it's good for him to know, and good for the team to know, that if he's not striking him well there's someone else can step up and kick them," he revealed.

Something in their performance against Westmeath also spoke of a new-found patience and maturity in the Fermanagh play, along with their cast-iron belief that they are in serious physical shape. Going three points down did not alter their mindset unduly.

"It was backs against the wall stuff but we didn't panic and that's a positive," said Corrigan.

"We'd be disappointed with the slow start, but in the second half we definitely stepped it up again and the goal was the killer blow. It knocked the stuffing out of Westmeath and we used possession well, so (we were) delighted to get over the line."

Now, he will take the pitch with Johnny Cooper for company in a Croke Park that may be rocking with as many as 70,000 fans.

"That's where we set out to be so I wouldn't say it's surreal. It is very satisfying to know you have reached your target," he added.

"Let's not be foolish about it - we're in bonus territory now but there is absolutely no reason why we can't go to Croke Park and give a good account of ourselves."

Belfast Telegraph

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