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O'Rourke has sights on Ferm start in new role

By John Campbell

New Fermanagh manager Malachy O'Rourke is hoping that his side can hit the ground running when the Gaelic Life Dr McKenna Cup gets under way.

But the former county star won't be too disappointed if they require a little time in which to settle.

"We will have a number of players who have been in the line-up for a while and some new faces who, we hope, will prove themselves," says O'Rourke. "Getting the right blend might just take a little time but you have to be prepared to exercise patience

Having been in charge of Errigal Ciaran, Loup and then Cavan Gaels in recent seasons, O'Rourke has sharpened his knowledge of Ulster football and recognises that Fermanagh require an infusion of pace, power and pride if they are to replicate the buoyancy and progress that marked 2004 when the county reached the last eight of the All Ireland football championship before bowing out to Mayo after a replay.

" In the McKenna Cup, we are drawn in a very competitive Group A along with St Mary's, Armagh and Derry," says schoolteacher O'Rourke.

" Even at the formal launch of the competition it was being widely predicted that Derry will come through from this group to reach the semi-finals.

"Obviously we would hope that this will not be the case but judging by the way they finished their All Ireland campaign back in August Paddy Crozier's boys will certainly deserve the height of respect.".

He stressed that the "door is always open" for players to make their mark.

"We will get an indication in January of just where we are at but that will maybe not be the real barometer.

" Obviously the National League will be a bg test for us especially as teams will all be very focussed on doing well to ensure that they achieve a decent place in the 2009 competition," added O'Rourke.

O'Rourke's appointment as team manager is expected to be further lauded at this week-end's Fermanagh Convention when goals for the future will be set out.

Belfast Telegraph


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