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Canavan positve despite miserable Tyrone record

By Declan Bogue

Fermanagh's miserable losing streak against Tyrone now stretches back to a one-point win in February 2006.

It was the first season out of playing inter-county football for current Erne boss Peter Canavan, who was willing to mine the positives from the McKenna Cup semi-final defeat.

“We will learn more from that than in previous games,” he said afterwards.

“Against lesser opposition, when you make mistakes or ball handling errors, you can get away with it.

“When you’re playing against the likes of Tyrone and division one teams, you make mistakes and you’re punished. And that’s the biggest learning point that we will come out of today with.”

With the McKenna Cup digested and forgotten about instantly, Canavan is preparing for two frantic weeks ahead.

A journey to Wicklow — who gave Fermanagh a thumping in the division four league final last April — is up first in the National League.

Setting the right tone is vital for Canavan, as he says, “Every game's a tough game for Fermanagh in that division. There are a lot of quality sides, sides that believe they should be in division two or even division one. We're well aware of the task facing us in competing in division three, there's no doubt about that.

“I'd like to think these boys will learn from playing Tyrone and that they'll be a better team for that experience. Time will tell.”

In the wake of Sunday's semi-final, both managers bemoaned the ball-handling skills of their players.

With the benefit of hindsight that might appear to be a little harsh, given the snow falling throughout the match, getting thicker as the second half progressed and fatigue began to set in.

“These boys are very much on a learning curve and they're very keen to learn,” continued Canavan.

“They're training very hard but they have things to learn. The fact that we were five down at half-time meant we were chasing the game somewhat, and were more attack-minded than we probably should have been.”

Having said that, it is clear that Fermanagh's gameplan has become more nuanced from last season. During the 2012 league, the gameplan basically entailed getting the ball to Seamus Quigley, who delivered 5-43 in eight starts.

Without the talented Roslea attacker, they now rely on the hard-working Shane McCabe to thread balls through into the inside line, and the strong running of midfielder Ryan Jones to open up opponents down the middle. But their great pity is that they undoubtedly miss Quigley's power and finishing.

And while they were exposed when Tyrone turned over the ball, Canavan still sees enough of a spark to be optimistic, despite Fermanagh only scoring two points from play.

“We did manage to claw our way back into and we did create a few chances near the end there. I certainly can't fault their commitment or effort,” the manager finished.

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