Belfast Telegraph

It's Fermanagh from heaven for Erneman Whitey

By Steven Beacom

Ballinamallard United manager Whitey Anderson believes Kyle Lafferty's heroics in the European Championship qualifying campaign are inspiring the youngsters of Fermanagh.

Lafferty, from Kesh, is one of three players from the Lakeland county in the Northern Ireland squad well on their way to next year's finals in France.

Goalkeepers Roy Carroll and Michael McGovern make up the trio.

"It is fantastic for Fermanagh that we have three local lads in the squad in Kyle, Roy and Michael McGovern," said Anderson.

"It is very significant for the county to have that number. Not only are these guys helping Northern Ireland in the quest to qualify for the Euro 2016 finals, but they are promoting football in Fermanagh too.

"There is a great sense of pride in having the three lads in the squad. We have a small population. There are only 60,000 people in Fermanagh which isn't much when you think that 1.8 million people live in Northern Ireland.

"This is a personal view but I do believe for people from Fermanagh to be successful in sport they have to work even harder than everyone else in Northern Ireland because we are often seen as being out of the way.

"Fermanagh people have to swim against the tide so for us it is great to see sports stars from our part of the world do well.

"Obviously Kyle has been in the spotlight a lot in this campaign with his goals and what he is doing is inspiring for kids in Fermanagh, especially those who love their football.

"When they see someone like Kyle delivering on a world stage it gives them hope that not only could they perhaps make it to Irish League level, they could also go on to play professional football and play and star for Northern Ireland. He is someone for them to look up to.

"At Ballinamallard we have some lads who played with Kyle in the Milk Cup and they would talk about what he has achieved. It is a lift for everyone to see.

"I think it is vital that he stays fit for the rest of the Euro campaign because he is our major goal threat. To see Roy at one end of the pitch saving goals and Kyle at the other end scoring them is fantastic."

Anderson is a regular at Northern Ireland games and fully intends making the trip to France if Michael O'Neill's side reach the Euro finals.

He says: "You will find an incredible clamour for tickets from Northern Ireland fans to go to France. It is a great location because it is pretty easy to get to and I can see thousands going over to support the team if we get there.

"It would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I know I'll be going and have already spoken to members of my family about them going too.

"I think Jim Cleary is the only man from Fermanagh to have gone to a major finals with Northern Ireland, in 1982, so to have another few at the Euro 2016 finals would be tremendous."

Belfast Telegraph