Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath has offered a place on the 2017 panel to Irish League star Cathal Beacom, as he comes to terms with the retirement of one of the county’s longest-serving players.
Beacom is understood to be mulling over the offer, while Tempo’s Damian Kelly has informed the two-time All-Ireland winner that he will not be back for the county, having made his debut back in 2004.
McGrath said: “I spoke to him last week and I’m sorry to see him go. He’s a very reliable player and a very reliable person and played well in a number of big games this year, so he will be a loss.”
While Marty O’Brien requires knee surgery and will be out for the next few months, McGrath has also lost Niall Cassidy to retirement, while Ciaran Flaherty has dropped out of the panel.
However, McGrath will be boosted by the return of Kelly’s clubmate, Daryl Keenan, who has been sidelined for the last two years with a complicated back problem. At a time, Keenan was one of the brightest prospects in Ulster, and was asked onto the county panel as a schoolboy by Malachy O’Rourke in 2008.
“Daryl is back, subject to his well-being,” said McGrath. “He has had injury difficulties this last few years and we arranged for him to get a scan and see a consultant. There is a course of action now currently being taken.”
He continued: “The consultants are quite confident that it will sort out his problem. I have spoken to Daryl, he is very keen to play for Fermanagh. He is back now living in this part of the world.
“I saw very little of Daryl when he was playing, he didn’t play that much for Fermanagh. But from what I was told he was a very good footballer and a major asset to us.”
Tiernan Daly is also recovering strongly from the cruciate ligament injury that kept him out in 2016, and McGrath added: “He has adhered strictly to the rehab programme that was given him after the surgery. He will be back training fully with us when we resume.”
The defence will be further bolstered with the inclusion of Ryan McCluskey, who has committed to another year following an operation on his hip.
“Everything is going well in terms of his rehab as well,” said McGrath.
“Ryan is very keen to give it another year.
“He didn’t want to bow out the way it happened with an injury ruining his season.”