Fermanagh attacker Tomás Corrigan admits that the Erne players are still hurting from last year’s All Ireland Qualifier defeat to Mayo and that they are keen to learn from their mistakes and improve in 2017.
Corrigan had a fine 2016, racking up some big scores in both league and championship, and he is now targeting a strong league campaign which begins with a trip to Newry to take on Down.
That championship loss still rankles with the squad though according to Corrigan.
“There is still disappointment going through the boys heads, thinking about what could have been if we had done things differently against Mayo or even done things differently against Donegal. That’s been on our mind since the defeat and we’ll be looking at what we can do differently to make sure that those same mistakes are not repeated.
“ If you continue making the same mistakes and doing the same things you’ll end up with the same results,” he he said.
The new season gets underway this Sunday with Fermanagh making the short trip to Clones to take on Monaghan in the opening round of fixtures in the McKenna Cup and Corrigan feels it is ideal preparation for what is sure to be a competitive Division Two campaign.
“The best preparation is competitive games,” he said.
“You can do all the training you want but it is those match situations that just don’t happen at training. You can try and get the body as right as you can but it is matches that ultimately bring you on and improve you.
“The McKenna Cup, as bad as it is playing football in January, it is great preparation for us for the league,” he commented.
And the forward goes into the new year free of injury and he feels that having a fully fit squad is essential heading towards the league.
“I’ve been injury free and I think one of the main things about the McKenna Cup is getting match practise under your belt and remaining injury free, that will be the two things that I’ll be targeting personally.
“Obviously, you want to be winning games too but I think the bigger picture is that you get match practise and keeping everyone fit because we’ll need a full hand for the league.”
Fermanagh will have games against Monaghan, St. Mary’s and Antrim during the group stages of the McKenna Cup and then it is on to a meeting with Pete McGrath’s home county, Down in the league opener with Fermanagh eager to hit the ground running in that game.
“That’s the big one for us and we are not looking past that.
“It’s a massive game and it’s a very tough game away from home on a Saturday night but we need to get off to a good start. We’ll have all our homework done and we’ll be ready to give a performance.
“It’s all about preparing now over the next four or five weeks and the McKenna Cup is a big part of that,” added Corrigan.
Opponents in Division Two in 2017 will include Galway, Cork, Derry and Kildare among others and it leaves little room for complacency either during a game or on the training pitch.
“The whole point of playing in the higher division is that you get more competitive games and it drives everyone on in training. You know that unless you give 100 percent you will be found out and going out through the trapdoor to Division Three and that’s not something that has come into our heads.”
Indeed, Corrigan has his sights set on the other end of the table. Last year Fermanagh avoided relegation on the last day but managed to finish mid-table which shows how competitive the division was.
And Corrigan says that Fermanagh want to improve on that this year and will be aiming for a top two spot this time around although he accepts that it will be a tough ask.
“You want to be improving on your lot every year. We were mid-table last year so we want to go one better this year and gain promotion. Making that jump is very tough though.
“I heard somebody comparing it to golf and the handicap system. It is easy enough to get from 18 down to 10 but making the jump from 10 down to nine or eight, that’s when the work really starts and that’s where we are at at the minute.
“We are getting there but we have to go to a place where we haven’t been before in terms of our preparation and commitment to the cause.
“From what I’ve seen this year so far at training, and the message coming from the manager, I think we are in a good place,” concluded Fermanagh’s top scorer last season.