Paul McCusker accepts that Fermanagh will be big underdogs in Clones on Saturday night but the Ederney man is also confident that if Pete McGrath’s charges can get their performance right on the night then they will have every chance of securing their place in the quarter-finals of this year’s Ulster Championship.
Monaghan have been performing at a high level over the past number of years and they enjoyed victories over the likes of Kerry and Mayo during a league campaign that saw them finish fourth in Division One.
And McCusker says that an away game in Clones would be a big test for even the best teams in the country.
“I think that if any team in Ireland was going to Clones to play Monaghan in a championship game they would see it as a challenge; if Dublin were going to Clones they would see it is a very tough game so we know we face a massive challenge. They have won two recent Ulster titles, they are a seasoned Division One team now with quality all over the pitch and having to go to Clones makes it all the tougher,” he said.
The hard working half forward states that Fermanagh’s focus since the league ended has been all about Monaghan and getting a performance in Clones.
“All we have been talking about is if we can get our performance right. Everything we are doing in training is aimed at when we get to Clones for that Championship match that we perform to the best of our ability. If we click on the day we won’t be far away.”
However, he knows that Fermanagh are going to have to raise their level of performance if they are to spring an upset on Saturday night.
“It will require better than anything we have produced this year. It is going to take the 15 boys, whoever they are, to be absolutely playing out of their skins and the men who come on then to make a big impact. You want those changes to be made too for boys who have done their job and have run out of steam and not because three or four boys haven’t performed, that’s not going to be good enough,” he added.
The league campaign was a disappointing one for Fermanagh but McCusker says that preparations have went well since the loss to Derry.
“It has been six weeks or so and everybody who is fit has been training well and training hard and the training has been excellent. The management team have been drilling into us what they want us to do against Monaghan and if we can implement what they want us to do then we will not be far away come the end of the game,” he said.
McCusker acknowledges though that if Fermanagh are to win the game then they can’t allow Monaghan to make a fast start to the game.
“The start is going to massive, probably more so for us. They will be thinking that if they get a lead up against us early on then we might die away after the league campaign we’ve had but if we can get a good start and stay with them as long as possible then that will lift the belief of the whole team and if we are still with them with ten minutes to go then we will be happy.”