Leading light: Fermanagh’s experienced captain James Sherry (left) can provide the midfield momentum that he hopes will take his side to |victory over Cavan tonightIT is doubtful if many players can match the mileage that James Sherry logs up week in and week out in his role as Fermanagh captain.
The Dublin-based physiotherapist has been making the trip from the capital to his home county on at least two occasions every week since the beginning of the year and when relegation became a reality for Fermanagh in the National League the pain was felt more by Sherry than anyone.
It was as a particularly skilful 17-year-old that Sherry was given his Erne baptism and now at 26 he is a senior citizen in a side that has sampled highs and lows. And one of those lows was relegation in the recent National League.
“It’s not because I travel that I particularly felt the anguish but because I believed we had disappointed our fans who have been very loyal to us,” says Sherry.
“We are now getting the chance against Cavan to show what we really can do and we want to make the most of it. Obviously dropping into Division Four is a big setback for all of us but we hope to gain some consolation for this in the championship.”
The nine years that the former St Michael’s, Enniskillen ace has spent in the Fermanagh side has seen him occupy a variety of positions but currently he shares the midfield duties alongside the fit-again Martin McGrath, a former team captain, and the pair carry a big burden of responsibility.
“Fermanagh have generally always had the capacity to up their game for the championship,” says Sherry. “Maybe last year was an exception but we hope to make amends for that tonight.
“We are well used to being cast in the role of underdogs and while we accept that expectations are not high nevertheless we have
our pride and our ambitions.”
His assessment that Fermanagh might have taken their eye off the ball last year at a crucial stage of the season does not brook any argument from his colleagues but equally there is widespread agreement within the panel that the focus has seldom been stronger in the pursuit of success.
“We know we let ourselves down in the league and we have damage to repair,” insists Sherry whose brother Peter misses the game through injury.
“ It’s important that we are taking the right mindset into this game. We have regained our belief and we still have a lot of experience within our side. We need to be brave enough to stand up and give it our all tonight.”
Sherry makes it clear that everyone in the team must be prepared to accept the responsibility the Ulster Championship imposes.
He adds: “We are in the national shop window and the pressure will be more intense for the new boys who are getting their championship baptisms but reaching the semi-final is in itself a massive incentive and we aim to respond in the best possible manner.”