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Declan McCusker is urging Fermanagh to seize early momentum in Dr McKenna Cup

By Declan Bogue

Fermanagh's opening Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup game against St Mary's tonight has been moved from Brewster Park to the Tyrone training complex at Garvaghey (throw-in at 8pm), but it is no problem for Erne defender Declan McCusker.

"I was thinking there wasn't a hope of the game being played in Brewster Park," said the Omagh schoolteacher.

"I am happy enough. We used to train in Garvaghey with Ederney because the lights were poor (at our own pitch) and it suited the Belfast boys."

McCusker has had a long season. Fermanagh were knocked out at the All-Ireland quarter-final stage by Dublin but he has been busy since. He recalled: "On the Tuesday (after) we had a friendly against Aghyaran with Ederney and it was some comedown. Ten people came out to watch in Ederney on a wet, brutal night. I thought 'some change from a couple of days ago, playing in front of 50,000'."

His club went on to contest the county league final, losing to Derrygonnelly Harps on December 12, and he has hardly had time to catch his breath before he was back at pre-season, after the club campaign was extended.

However, he maintains Fermanagh will want to get out of their group, after seeing how it helped them to start their league campaign last year when they met Cavan in the semi-final.

"There are two weeks between the McKenna Cup group matches and the league and you can do hard training or whatever, or get a challenge match," McCusker explained.

"But to have a McKenna Cup semi-final definitely helped us last year going into the league because we had a tough enough start.

"That game just brought us on because it was a really tight game against Cavan. It's very beneficial to get into the semi-final."

The only other game in the Dr McKenna Cup tonight sees Queen's host Antrim at the Queen's Playing Fields, with the throw-in also at 8pm.

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