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Canavan on brink of quitting Fermanagh

By Declan Bogue

Sunday's defeat to Cavan has left an uncertainty over Peter Canavan’s future in charge of the Fermanagh footballers, following some revealing comments he made in the wake of the game.

Fermanagh had been in the driving seat against their neighbours, 0-13 to 0-7 in front with 20 minutes remaining, when Cavan struck three goals in 10 minutes to swing the game in their favour.

It was quite a remarkable collapse from the Ernesiders, and their manager was clearly shaken as he revealed that external influences may cause him to review his position.

“We will look back on it and there are areas that we are going to have to look at,” Canavan said.

“We've only had the team six months and we'd like to think they could get fitter and they can get stronger.

“There's things outside of our control that people are going to have to look at as well, but overall the experience I have had since I've came in has been a very positive one.”

Expanding on the fact that his late appointment to the post meant they were already starting the season away behind other teams, he said: “There's a lot of potential there, a lot of men keen to do well and to make progress for their county and that's good to see.

“There's ambition there, so I would like to think they are heading the right way.

“Again, we'll look at our position at the end of the year, that's what I said when I came in, I've done that with my own club and I'll be doing it here.

“Certainly there are areas that need to be addressed and things that we are going to have to look at, but it's not a decision to be made now, that's for sure.”

When pressed whether he would be there to oversee their development over the winter, he said: “There's been serious progress I believe with these players in the past six months.

“Are they up to the level of other counties? No. They're not. If the desire's there and they want to do it, there's nothing to stop them getting themselves into that sort of condition. But, we'll certainly have to look at that end of it.

“But, they do need all the support they can get. There's a number of issues need to be addressed in that.

Are the players getting every opportunity they can to be the best they can be? Look, we'll look at our own end of things, we'll speak to the county board and we'll see how things go.”

He added: “We said at the start that as far as I was concerned we were going to review our position at the end of the year.

“Yes, it may be a three-year term, but we would be looking at things and if we weren't happy with things at the end of the first year, that we weren't happy that things were moving in the right direction for us, then we weren't going to stay just for the sake of staying.

“That was the agreement at the start, so that's where it is now.”

While Canavan is keeping tight-lipped on the root of the uncontrollable factors, there are a number of issues behind the scenes that are ongoing in the county. Some players in both the football and hurling teams have not been paid their expenses since February, and it is believed that the county board is struggling financially.

One recent county board meeting raised the issue of the fundraising body, Club Eirne, and its role in supporting county teams. A fund-raising draw was organised by the county board, with the aim to raise £40,000. The figure eventually generated was around £14,000.

Clubs in the county have also been hit with an increase in their annual levy. Normally, the clubs would make a payment of £1,000, but this was increased to £1,500 after a meeting of the finance committee.

There is some dissatisfaction, however, that this decision was not voted through at board level.

Like many county boards, Fermanagh is feeling the pinch and the issue of expenses has been one that has been raised in Fermanagh before, going back as far as 2002, when players were prepared to not fulfil a league fixture until a solution to the problem was found.

Playing wise, it seems that Canavan would be keen to stay on at Fermanagh, as he commented on how he concluded the season with his players in the post-match huddle.

“As I said to the boys out there, their effort and dedication, whilst we made mistakes, and maybe didn't take chances and that, you couldn't fault their dedication or their desire and I'll not have a bad word to say about them,” the coach said.

Peter the Great

Peter Canavan is one of the game’s most decorated individuals, holding the record for Ulster players with six All-Stars. He captained Tyrone to their first All-Ireland title in 2003 and had a crucial role in their 2005 All-Ireland win, coming on late to influence the course of games.

He also won four Ulster titles and two National Leagues, as well as representing Ireland in the International Rules Series from 1998 to 2000.

Playing for his club Errigal Ciaran, he won six Tyrone titles as well as two Ulster Club Championships. As manager of Errigal, Canavan led them to two successive league titles, before taking over Fermanagh last winter.

Starting brightly in the McKenna Cup, they reached the semi-final before being knocked out by Tyrone.

In the National League, they went undefeated through their programme, but suffered a heavy defeat to Wicklow in the division four final. Nevertheless, promotion to division three in 2012 had already been secured.

Defeat to Down in the opening round of the Ulster Championship and their home defeat to Cavan on Sunday leaves Fermanagh without a win in the qualifying series since 2007.

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