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Fermanagh, Monaghan and Cavan have chance to bite back

By John Campbell

Three border counties share a united goal in today's All-Ireland Football Championship qualifiers.

Fermanagh, Monaghan and Cavan all get the opportunity to atone for their lapses in the Ulster Championship by meeting Mayo, Longford and Carlow respectively.

And the team facing the biggest task is Fermanagh, although the fact that opponents Mayo will be without the influential Tom Parsons and Jason Gibbons could see the scales tilt in favour of Pete McGrath's side.

The Ernesiders' skipper Eoin Donnelly is partnered by Richard O'Callaghan in the middle third and the duo could provide the platform for a steady stream of possession to an attack in which Tomás Corrigan in particular is breathing fire right now.

Damian Kelly gets a start in defence while Ryan Lyons returns to the half-forward line alongside Ryan Jones and Barry Mulrone.

Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke and his Cavan counterpart Terry Hyland have had just a week to prepare their teams.

O'Rourke's men still feel the hurt occasioned by their disappointing display against Donegal last weekend and will certainly find Longford, boosted by their earlier qualifier win over Down, no pushovers.

"We played a lot better in the second-half but Donegal always had that bit of a lead and we weren't able to close that gap," reflected O'Rourke.

Today, his side will need to show much more cohesion and discipline if they are to advance.

Karl O'Connell, Drew Wylie, Darren Hughes, Kieran Hughes and skipper Conor McManus can certainly wield an influence on this occasion.

Cavan dynamo Cian Mackey is relieved that his side are getting the opportunity to gain consolation for that setback against Tyrone when they cross swords with Carlow at Kingspan Breffni Park.

"We played into Tyrone's hands and that's just what they love. We might have scored 2-17, which would win most games, but when you give away 5-18 you don't deserve anything. But who knows, we might get another crack at Tyrone before the summer is over," stated Mackey.

He will again have a key role against Carlow but James McEnroe, Niall Murray, David Givney and Martin Reilly make way for Padraig Faulkner, Ciaran Brady, Liam Buchanan and Seanie Johnston.

Manager Hyland has been brushing up on his defensive strategy in training this week and expects a much more defiant display from his team.

Fermanagh: C Snow; M Jones, C Cullen, M O'Brien; D McCusker, D Kelly, A Breen; E Donnelly, R O'Callaghan; B Mulrone, R Jones, R Lyons; R Corrigan, S Quigley, T Corrigan.

Cavan: R Galligan; K Brady, R Dunne, P Faulkner; F Flanagan, C Moynagh, C Brady; T Corr, L Buchanan; D McVeety, G McKiernan, K Clarke; C Mackey, E Keating, S Johnston.

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