Calling the Shots: Outlook is positive for Fermanagh
All-Ireland Senior Football Championship
Fermanagh v Westmeath, Saturday, Kingspan Breffni Park, 5pm
The idea of Fermanagh’s progression this season has to be framed with some hard realities.
Statistics are often an ineffective way of measuring progress. An example of that is to show how Fermanagh have won three Championship games for the first time since 2004.
However, two of them were against Antrim, at home. In 2008, Fermanagh had beaten Derry and Monaghan on their way to an Ulster final, where they drew with Armagh. Was that team less successful in relative terms?
And had that late rally and flurry of scores not come against Roscommon, how would Fermanagh fans feel about their year? It’s a question worth asking.
Yet, because it happened and Fermanagh had the reserves of character, through the likes of Tomas Corrigan and Sean Quigley and Eoin Donnelly, the outlook is much more positive.
Manager Pete McGrath, who has been drilling positivity into these players since he came in, got to see it finally come into practise. They have now beaten a team ranked above them in the Championship and now know they can dig a win out of a seemingly impossible position.
It was also the first time out of their five games this year that they were behind at half-time that they came back to win.
Westmeath know that too, by virtue of their win over Meath in Leinster. The only thing about it is that they required 1-9 from John Heslin to do it. The St Loman’s man is out of this one with an ankle injury and that might be too much for them.
Cork v Kildare, Saturday, Semple Stadium, 7pm
After the monsoon last Saturday night in Killarney, Cork have a chance to get a crack at Dublin again if they should get over Jason Ryan’s Kildare.
Steeled by two games against the All-Ireland champions and feeling stung by their failure to close out the first day, they will progress.
All-Ireland Minor Hurling Championship
Antrim v Dublin, Saturday, Kingspan Breffni Park, 3pm
Ciaran Kearney’s Saffron minors discovered what many Antrim underage teams tend to do after they completed their programme in the Leinster league — their hurling is too slow.
A couple of challenge matches in recent times against a Kilkenny selection and Galway might have been useful workouts, but a victory here is highly unlikely.
All-Ireland Under-21 Hurling 'C' Championship
Donegal v Tyrone, Sunday, Celtic Park, 6pm
Two counties that are earnestly working hard at improving standards, backed by county boards who see the merit in progress in the small ball code, even though they have a thriving football culture.
Mattie Lennon’s longer service with the Tyrone boys could be the difference here.