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Fermanagh must take hard road to maintain Division Two status: Gallagher

 

By John Campbell

Former Fermanagh goalkeeper Ronan Gallagher accepts that if his county are to attain coveted Division Two status then they are now going to have to achieve it the hard way.

Now the Erne county's goalkeeping coach as part of brother Rory's management team, Ronan accepts that the recent defeat to Westmeath and last Sunday's draw against Armagh see Fermanagh go into the lion's den against upbeat Longford on Sunday.

Nothing less than an outright win will do if Fermanagh are to take the leap into the higher bracket and the backdrop to their promotion shoot-out could hardly be more fascinating.

Both Longford and Fermanagh have won four, drawn one and lost one of the six matches they have played to date, although the midland side have racked up 9-81 in their games while the Ernemen have totted up 7-63.

"Obviously there's very little between the sides," says Ronan, who first joined the Fermanagh squad 20 years ago.

"I suppose you would have to say that we met teams who were in the lower half of the league in our earlier matches but now we have Westmeath, Armagh and Longford coming after each other and obviously these teams are asking questions of us."

Yet the Armagh-based coaching guru believes that the work which the Fermanagh squad undertook prior to Christmas and the commitment that the players have been showing in training since then is now standing them in good stead.

"There is a good energy and spirit within the squad and I believe that we are still capable of making it into Division Two," reflects Ronan. "I remember reading a newspaper article in the mid-Noughties which said that Fermanagh were no longer the whipping boys but I have always believed that in an Ulster context any team can beat any other side on a given day.

"Longford will be a different proposition for us because they have shown they can chisel out results and they were very unfortunate to lose against Armagh when they had been down to 14 men for part of the second-half.

"They have home advantage, their fans will be up for it and there should be a championship feel to the game.

"Fermanagh know what they have to do and I believe that they have the drive, tenacity and skill to get there."

Fermanagh are certain to enjoy huge support though, given the feeling of optimism that still prevails within the county despite the hiccups suffered in their last two games.

If the side were to achieve Division Two status, it would represent a huge boost for football within the county and lend further impetus to the coaching and games development initiatives there.

Belfast Telegraph

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