It just had to be Cavan, didn’t it.
When the draw was being made on Monday morning and both Fermanagh and Cavan remained in the drum as others were bring pulled out, you just knew that they were destined to meet again, and that’s how it played out.
The sides only met less than three weeks ago in the Ulster Championship, with Cavan coming out on top in a closely contested encounter at Brewster Park, but Fermanagh will have the chance for redemption on Saturday July 13 in Kingspan Breffni Park when the sides will clash for the second time in a month. However, this time around it is do-or-die as for the loser their season will be over while the winner will progress to Round Three of the Qualifiers.
Peter Canavan and his side will be very aware that it is going to take a massive improvement from the first clash if they are to overcome Terry Hyland’s Breffnimen although the landscape has slightly changed from the last meeting.
On that occasion, Cavan went into the game full of confidence on the back of an excellent victory over Armagh in the Ulster Championship preliminary round.
This time though it is Fermanagh who will enter the tie on the back of a confidence boosting win over Westmeath last Saturday while Cavan must try and lift themselves after the disappointment of missing out on an Ulster Final berth following a narrow loss to Monaghan last Saturday evening in Clones.
Fermanagh though will still face the same problems in Breffni Park as they faced in Brewster Park and that is how to breakdown a well drilled, strong and disciplined Cavan defence while at the same time keeping things tight themselves at the back and not allowing the likes of Martin Dunne, Eugene Keating and Cian Mackey too much space to operate in.
However, last Saturday’s result and performance will have provided a major boost to Peter Canavan and his players, and the fact that they now have a championship win under their belts should give them extra confidence moving forward.
The Fermanagh team that started against Westmeath in Mullingar included ten players who did not know what it was like to play in a team that won a championship game so it will be only natural that this will lift them as they get ready for the showdown in Breffni. And the game also provided Fermanagh with a first championship win since 2010 and they will be delighted to have that monkey off the back.
In Cusack Park it was Fermanagh’s more experienced players who were the drving forces as they finally saw off Westmeath.
Captain Ryan McCluskey was commanding at the back, Damian Kelly was excellent at centre half back where he picked his times to power forward, chipping in with 1-01.
Marty McGrath gave an immense display in midfield with some eye-catching fielding and tireless work-rate while Shane McCabe gave Westmeath problems all day with his darting runs and use of the ball. It was also crucial for Fermanagh that they got off to a good start to the game and in that respect Sean Quigley played a big role in knocking over three excellent early points while at the death it came down to corner back Johnny Woods to ensure Fermanagh would progress as he showed nerves of steel to land the winning point of his left foot.
There were lots of positives for Fermanagh to take out of Mullingar, especially the number of chances they created and bagging three goals but Canavan will know that there is still plenty of things for his side to work on, not least their shooting with the side registering 20 wides.
Fermanagh will not find as much room or space in Breffni Park on July 13 and chances won’t be as easy to come by in what is likely to be another tight affair. So, when they do get chances they can ill afford to waste them.
After the defeat to Cavan though Fermanagh would gladly have taken the opportunity to be where they are now. Yes, it is a game against a side they lost to recently in the championship so there is the chance to avenge that defeat, but far more importantly, it is a chance to progress further in the championship.
This article appeared in Impartial Reporter 04 Jul 13