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Season isn't over for us yet, vows McGrath


Hard to watch: Fermanagh manager Peter McGrath

Hard to watch: Fermanagh manager Peter McGrath

Andrew Paton / PressEye

Hard to watch: Fermanagh manager Peter McGrath

Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath was surprised at the red card that ended Ryan McCluskey's, and by extension, Fermanagh's threat in this Ulster semi-final, and is considering an appeal.

"We were expecting a black card and we were amazed it was a red. We will find out exactly what it is and see if we can appeal," said McGrath.

This defeat clearly rankled with the Down man, who assessed the game in clear terms.

"There was so much from our players today which was very good, that was positive in terms of their energy and the quality of their football they played and the intensity they brought to the game," he said.

"We matched them stride for stride over the first 35 minutes. They got away a bit early in the second-half, we pegged them back again. And then, we're in the next stage and we did cough up cheap possession and they punished us. And the sending-off was a major blow when we needed all the resources on the field.

"Ten points flatters Monaghan quite a bit and they will admit that as well. Over 70 minutes, their power and their strength and their experience, that ability particularly in the second-half to maximise their chances, was better than ours. They're a long way further down the road in their development that we are.

"The red card gave us a mountain to climb and then when the goal came, you could have pulled the curtain down at that stage."

After the game, the Fermanagh team gathered in a huddle in the middle of the pitch and, before long, were conducting a warm-down, something rarely seen in a losing team. Given the way they have conducted themselves this season, and with McGrath's ambition, they feel they are not done.

McGrath said: "It is our objective now - and we took a pledge in there to this effect - we fully intend to be playing football in August. And that is what we are going to be targeting.

"And I know we can achieve that if we learn from today and keep promoting the things that we are very, very good at. If we keep showing the character and the courage and the temperament we showed for long periods of that game."

While he admitted that he wasn't exactly looking out for the qualifier draw to be made this morning, he is now keen to see who the Ernemen get and when he says playing football by August, he means the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

"You wait to see who you get, where you get them and you plan accordingly," he said.

"Certainly today, I saw the qualities in our team that we have been trying to foster since the start of the year. The belief, the intensity, the football, the tackling, the manliness, the energy - it was all there for long periods. Just those unforced errors that you maybe would get away with in Division Three cost us."

Belfast Telegraph