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National Hurling League: Troubled waters calming for Fermanagh

By John Campbell

Fermanagh manager John O’Neill did not expect to encounter such turbulent waters when he embarked on his National League voyage.

A drip of players from his squad suddenly developed into a flow when four of his more established personnel stepped down, citing disenchantment with the managerial set-up.

Yet for all the furore that this precipitated, a sense of calm has now descended within the Erne County and this could perhaps become even more pronounced should O’Neill’s restructured side make it three wins on the bounce at the expense of London tomorrow in Division Four.

Granted, recent opponents have been far removed from the elite strata and Fermanagh’s mini-renaissance provides not the slightest barometer of what they might achieve in the forthcoming Ulster Championship but nonetheless any ray of light is to be welcomed when a squad is enshrouded in gloom.

O’Neill’s pragmatism and indeed his dignified demeanour have hinted that the impasse may not quite have disastrous consequences for the county.

His team for tomorrow’s game is short on experience but high on enthusiasm and commitment.

Goalkeeper Chris Breen, skipper Barry Owens and centre-half-back Hugh Brady are the only three of the old guard left but players like Conor Quigley, Ryan Jones, Terry O’Flanagan, Daniel Kille, Sean Quigley and Murt O’Brien have served notice that they are well capable of wearing the green for a more protracted spell.

O’Neill is firmly focused on the future rather than consumed by what has happened in the past.

“We have to move on, we have players in the team who want to play for Fermanagh and that’s very important.

“While our focus is on this game against London, we are like the rest of the Ulster teams in that the championship is in our sights and we want to be ready for it both physically and mentally,” insists O’Neill.

Certainly a win tomorrow will further fashion Erne self-belief.

Belfast Telegraph

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