Fermanagh minors will start their Ulster Minor league campaign on Tuesday March 15th with an away clash with neighbours Donegal in Ballybofey.
Last season Keith Reilly’s minor side also started with a clash against Donegal and it was a chastising experience with the Donegal side winning on a scoreline of 5-23 to 1-4.
The Fermanagh manager has still to choose a captain but Reilly admits he is keeping a close eye on St Michaels MacRory side, “We still have a large squad at the minute with only half available to train with us. We have played Sligo in a challenge game recently and lost 2-15 to 2-9.”
He continued, “We were leading going into the last period of the game but late scores from Sligo just killed us off at the end.”
Last Sunday the Fermanagh minors drew with Leitrim 3-13 to 0-22 and Reilly felt he can take away plenty of positives from his sides performance, “We did have a very large squad out against Leitrim and we actually had two different 15’s in both halves. Both 30 minutes finished level so it was a fairly level game throughout. At the minute we are working closely with Dom Corrigan in St Michaels with regards getting access to players and having collective training sessions together.”
The Fermanagh side will face Antrim once again in the Championship in May with the winners then having to come up against Donegal in an Ulster Championship Quarter Final.
Reilly says the amount of time players are committing his high on his agenda, “We are very mindful of the player workload and with a current squad size of around 39 players then we will use the Ulster Minor league to find our best team and a playing style that suits the team and that will hopefully get winning results.”
Reilly is now into his second year with Fermanagh minors and once again has Colm Monaghan helping out and Kevin O’Rourke looking after training. Tempo man Stephen Jackson is also working with the Goalkeepers while former Cavan attacker Jason O’Reilly is working as Strength and Conditioning coach for the team.
Fermanagh have once again been thrown into a 5 team group along with Derry, Donegal, Tyrone and Antrim meaning one team will again not qualify for either the main Semi Finals or the Plate semi finals.
Reilly admits its a tough group again, “Over the past number of years Derry, Donegal and Tyrone have been at the later end of League and Championship finals so we expect those three to be very strong. While Antrim footballers are ever improving and there does seem to be a real injection of interest this year in Antrim football with 6 new County board officers and Ballymena schools going well in Colleges football.”
Fermanagh will look to Enniskillen Gaels duo Jonathan Cassidy and Eoin Beacom to drive the side forward with both players having super seasons in 2015, while Shane McGullion of Derrygonnelly Harps is another huge prospect for the side after scoring 2 goals in the 2015 SFC County Final against Roslea.
Tiarnan Bogue of Tempo is an Ulster All-Star who will supply scores and its clear to see Fermanagh have a strong nucleus of talented players.
Reilly though is taking it game by game and is getting ready for Antrim on May 15th, “Our focus will be on Antrim and in every League game I will be drumming it into the players that its up to them to push for a starting place come Championship. There are no easy games in Championship football and we know its going to be another test this year.”
There is no doubt about it, Fermanagh will be up against it in the League but if Reilly can find the style of play and his best settled 15 then the Erne boys may shake it up in Ulster this season.