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Hurlers out to Erne respect in big Croker showdown

By John Campbell

Less than a week after Fermanagh's elimination from the Ulster Football Championship title race at the hands of Antrim, the county's hurlers will bid to restore Erne pride at Croke Park.

Victories over Warwickshire and Leitrim as well as a draw with Longford in the round robin series of the Lory Meagher Cup have projected Fermanagh into tomorrow's high noon final when it will be very much a case of déjà vu.

For their opponents will once again be Longford only this time the intensity, passion and fervour which were conspicuous by their absence in what manager Seamus McCusker describes as "a diplomatic draw" in their last meeting will be very much in vogue.

"Both teams knew going into that game that they had clinched their places so the result, a diplomatic draw, was academic," points out McCusker.

"But let's just say that diplomacy will go out through the window (tomorrow). We lost in the final two years ago to Tyrone and Longford lost in it last year so there will be massive hunger on the part of both teams this time."

Fermanagh, though, have had to hurdle one unforeseen obstacle en route to the final.

Lisbellaw, who supply 17 players to the county squad, were due to meet Ballinascreen in an Ulster Tain League game last weekend but had sought postponement because of the Lory Meagher final.

Ballinascreen, though, were unwilling to defer the game, the matter went to the Ulster Council and Lisbellaw ultimately conceded the fixture.

Mark Slevin, Ryan Bogue, Francie McBrien, Sean Corrigan, PJ McGarry and goalkeeper Mark Curry are key figures in a Fermanagh side which hopes to take a leaf from the book of the 1994 team that won the All-Ireland Junior title and on which McCusker and his managerial partner Sean Duffy played.

Meanwhile, an Armagh man is plotting what he hopes will be a successful mission for Tyrone at Croke Park tomorrow.

Derrynoose clubman Mattie Lennon has guided Tyrone into the Nicky Rackard Cup final (2pm) in which they will meet Fingal and he is confident that the Red Hands can now claim the silverware.

"We have to perform on the day, that's the main thing," maintains Lennon.

Belfast Telegraph

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