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Canavan up for challenge on two fronts

By John Campbell

Tyrone legend Peter Canavan is currently nurturing two major sporting aspirations — at county and club level.


The man who captained Tyrone to their first All-Ireland title triumph a decade ago aims to guide the Fermanagh side, which he now manages, to their place in Division Two of the Allianz Football League on Sunday and then on Saturday week he will oversee the bid by Holy Trinity College, Cookstown to become All Ireland Vocational Schools champions by beating Cnoc Mhuire, Granarad at Croke Park.

It’s a tall order of course but then the phlegmatic Canavan is accustomed to scaling demanding peaks.

“Obviously Fermanagh’s game against Meath has now taken on added significance since Meath have come from a poor start in the league to get eight points and put themselves in line for promotion,” points out Canavan “Judging by the way they beat Antrim on Sunday by 11 points, they will be really fired up.

“This is a big, big test for us no matter how you look at it.”

Fermanagh have totted up nine points to date and had been deemed frontrunners for promotion for a spell but now with both Meath and Monaghan snapping at their heels the race to the top tier is going to the wire.

Injuries to key players such as James Sherry, Eoin Donnelly, Sean Quigley, Ryan McCluskey and Ryan Jones may not helped Fermanagh’s cause but the return to form of seasoned midfielder Martin McGrath and the ability of forwards such as Paul Ward and Tómas Corrigan to take scores are plus-points on which the wily Canavan prefers to dwell.

The fact too that Shane McCabe is revelling in his role as playmaker and that Tommy McElroy has made the seamless transition from half-back to half-forward serves to further cushion Fermanagh’s attacking strategy.

In addition, Declan McCuskey and Martin O’Brien have offered proof that they can offer consistently accurate marksmanship.

“We have had a few injury setbacks but we have to get on with it.

“Every team hits this problem at some stage of the season,” points out Canavan.

While Antrim could do his side a favour on Sunday by even drawing with Monaghan, Canavan adheres to the belief that Fermanagh’s destiny is in their own hands.

“It would be a great fillip to beat Meath. I can’t think of better preparation for the Ulster championship and it would also bring the newer players in our side on,” maintains Canavan.

Meath duo Graham Reilly and Michael Newman have the capacity to trouble the Erne defence but if they can be shackled, then Canavan could complete the first leg of what would be a significant sporting double.

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