Ernemen will have to crush Kildare belief, says Ronan
Fermanagh selector Ronan Gallagher believes All-Ireland qualifier opponents Kildare will be on the crest of a wave following last Saturday’s dramatic victory over Mayo, coming at the end of a week in which they won a seismic battle against Croke Park in the boardroom.
The GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee had initially set the fixture for Croke Park, but the Kildare management and players insisted they would play it at home in Newbridge or nowhere at all.
After the GAA backed down, the Lilywhites players delivered a performance for the ages in edging out Mayo.
It represented the ultimate turnaround for a county that had lost 12 consecutive games since the start of the year, during which they suffered relegation from Division One and defeat in the Leinster Championship to Carlow.
They now meet a team at the opposite end of that trajectory, with Fermanagh trying to put an Ulster final loss behind them when they run out this Saturday night for the Round Four qualifier game in Navan, due to be broadcast on Sky.
“I think (Kildare) will be on a high. The challenge for them will be to refocus, just after the heat of the night and the whole emotional build-up to it,” said Gallagher, the current goalkeeping coach and selector for brother and boss Rory.
“But again, you compare that to six weeks ago when the unity might not have been there. There’s nothing like a good win against the odds, and taking on the GAA in the way that they did to galvanise not just the team but the whole county.
“They are in some position now, having got that win over Mayo, who have been at the top table for so long.
“They also know that they will have to refocus quickly, but with Cian O’Neill there, they will definitely get the recovery right and they will get the psychological end of it right too.”
Following their Ulster final defeat to Donegal, the Ernemen were back in the gym last Wednesday night and had a light pitch session on the Thursday.
“I think we are slowly building it back up, probably trying to work on things that need improving without getting too into it,” Gallagher said.
“It was some emotional rollercoaster for the players, from the hype and the high of everything to what came out.”
Ten years ago, Fermanagh lost an Ulster final replay to Armagh and six days later had to face Kildare, who had Kieran McGeeney — in his first year — in charge.
This time around they have had an extra week’s recovery, with Gallagher noting: “The truth is that no matter how thoroughly and well the players train over the next week, we will know after 15 or 20 minutes of the game where we are at.
“The responsibility is not just with the players. It is very much with management as well to make sure the players are right.”
Meanwhile, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte is hoping that attackers Lee Brennan and Mark Bradley will have sufficiently recovered from injuries sustained during the course of their Ulster quarter-final defeat to Monaghan to challenge for a place in the matchday squad this weekend when they face Cork in Portlaoise, the other game that will be part of the Sky double bill.
Bradley took a knock to the ankle, while Brennan had been risking a hamstring strain, which was aggravated during the course of the game.
This will be the Red Hands’ fourth game in five weeks, but Harte insists the workload is not too much.
“I think it is about managing your time now,” said the three-time All-Ireland winner.
“We won’t ask much of our players this week other than recovery, and hopefully the injuries won’t be anything that will keep any player out.
“I think players love playing football week-in, week-out and we won’t be doing much in between.”
Round four All-Ireland qualifiers
Armagh v Roscommon; Saturday, Portlaoise, 3pm
Tyrone v Cork; Saturday, Portlaoise, 5pm
Fermanagh v Kildare; Saturday, Navan, 7pm
Monaghan v Laois; Sunday, Navan, 2pm