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Early birds Fermanagh can catch worm

By John Campbell

Fermanagh don't plan to leave anything to chance for Sunday's National Football League Division Three final against Wexford at Parnell Park, Dublin (12.30pm).

It is expected that the Erne squad will travel on Saturday evening for an overnight stay for what will be the county's most important game since their All Ireland semi-final replay defeat by Mayo in 2004.

While Wexford are bemoaning the early start to the game, Fermanagh are taking things in their stride.

Indeed, Wexford chairman Ger Doyle has expressed "grave disappointment" at the decision to fix the game for early in the afternoon.

The final will act as a curtain-raiser to the Division 1 decider between Kerry and Derry, which has a 2.15pm throw-in, and Doyle believes the Division 3 final is being downgraded by its early start.

"We'll have to leave at 8.30 in the morning," he said.

"It's a two-hour drive from Wexford, we'll have to be at the ground by 11.30 and we'll have to stop along the way for some food. It's not ideal.

"There is talk about clashing with the Munster v Saracens Heineken Cup semi-final but the people that are going to a Wexford football match would go anyway, regardless of a rugby match.

"I'd say it's the same for Kerry, Derry and Fermanagh fans."

While Wexford lament the throw-in time, Fermanagh manager Malachy O'Rourke is much more focused on choosing his starting line-up.

And in this respect he could face a not unpleasant problem.

Last weekend, O'Rourke made seven changes from the side that drew with Wexford at Lisnaskea for the clash with Down.

Fermanagh's two-point win was highlighted by several outstanding individual performances from players who had come in - Ronan Gallagher, Ryan Keenan, Peter Sherry, Hugh Brady, Liam McBarron, Jonathan McGurn and Ciaran McElroy.

Keenan scored a fine goal, McElroy landed four points, Brady filled the full-back role capably and McBarron revealed his vast experience as the Ernemen maintained their unbeaten record.

"I was very impressed with the attitude and work-rate of all the players.

"The boys who came in from the bench, too, did well and obviously I have a few posers for Sunday but I have no great objection to that," said manager O'Rourke.

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