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Niall Cassidy closes curtain on Fermanagh but is keen for Pete McGrath to stay

By Declan Bogue

Fermanagh's Niall Cassidy has told the Belfast Telegraph that he is retiring in the wake of Saturday's 2-14 to 1-12 All-Ireland qualifier defeat to Mayo, and has urged the county board to do all in their power to retain the services of manager Pete McGrath.

After the loss, McGrath told reporters that he will spend a period of time in reflection before deciding whether or not to commit to another season in charge.

Cassidy could not feature against Mayo or the previous game against Wexford as he was serving a two-match ban following an incident in the Ulster quarter-final when he struck Donegal's Eamonn McGee.

Following Saturday's defeat, and after accusations that Aidan O'Shea dived to win a penalty from referee Joe McQuillan, the 34-year-old Roslea Shamrocks clubman said: "I was disappointed because I got the suspension but I trained as hard as I could as I felt we would beat Mayo. We could have. If the referee had have done things differently, then Fermanagh could have won."

He also hopes McGrath will stay on. He stated: "He has the side set-up the way he wants and has got far in his three years. There is a great camaraderie in the panel now.

"I think another year in Division Two would help and they should be pushing to keep Pete and as many players as possible."

There will be speculation that other veterans may leave, including Ryan McCluskey.

Meanwhile, the draw for Rounds 3A and 3B of the football qualifiers was made yesterday.

It paired Ulster duo Derry and Cavan together, the game to be played in Kingspan Breffni Park.

Elsewhere, Mayo will enjoy home advantage against Kildare and Sligo are at home to Clare, while giant-killers Longford, already responsible for dumping Down and Monaghan out of this year's Championship, will relish hosting Cork.

All games will be played this weekend.

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