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McGrath is keen to dine at top table

By Declan Bogue

Pete McGrath once captured Down's famous 1991 All-Ireland final win over Meath with the memorable, "we beat the team, that beat the team, that couldn't be beat."

His taste for big-game hunting lives on after felling Down and Donegal in the space of three days, and he has now turned his sights to Tyrone ahead of tomorrow's Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup semi-final (Clones, throw-in 2pm).

"We talked about belief and we talked about the players understanding that they are as good as anything in this province and they shouldn't be afraid or ashamed to state that. And when it comes to matches, go out and show that," stated McGrath.

"Tyrone is another big challenge. They are a very experienced and battle-hardened team.

"But we will look forward to that challenge. We want to be playing against these teams because that is where we belong."

By quirk of fate, this is the first time Fermanagh will have played at the Monaghan venue since their Ulster final replay defeat to Armagh in 2008.

In real terms, that leaves the side very short on experience of playing at Clones. Someone like Sean Quigley, who floated over a sideline kick in the win over Donegal on Wednesday, has been playing senior county football for six years yet he will have to familiarise himself with the Clones posts for the first time.

This is the second successive time McGrath has got the Ernesiders out of the group stages of the January competition and he cites the character the team showed in defeating St Mary's in extreme weather as an example of the attitude of the panel.

"All we can do is take all the qualities and the values that we have shown into that game on Sunday," explained McGrath.

"What Tyrone want to do is their business. They will be very keen to win, but so will we.

Whatever happens this weekend, McGrath is placing a lot of importance on the National League campaign, which begins on January 31 with an away trip to face Derry in Owenbeg.

A number of experienced players who have sat out the Dr McKenna Cup will be re-integrating with the panel by that time.

McGrath revealed: "Ryan McCluskey will be re-joining the team in February. Ryan Jones hopefully will be able to play some part against Derry, he is still doing a bit of rehab.

"Tom Treacy is still two and a half weeks away, Richie O'Callaghan too."

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