Aidan Breen has had enough of being a gallant loser and of moral victories.
A pat on the back after running some of the big sides in the country close is not enough, it’s not what the Fermanagh players have been training hard for since November.
Monaghan will provide Fermanagh with a massive test on Saturday night in Clones, after all Malachy O’Rourke’s side are top Division One side and have lifted two Ulster titles over the last few years - but Breen says that Fermanagh are going there with the sole intention of booking their place in the quarter-finals.
“Look, we’re under no illusions what challenge lies ahead. Monaghan are a very good side, you don’t win two recent Ulster titles if you are not a very good team and they are a Division One side and I would think that they will be for the foreseeable future, so we know we are up against it but we will be going there to win.
“We have trained hard from November and you don’t do that for to be beaten and somebody to give you a slap on the back and tell you that you did well. We don’t want to go there and put in a good performance and push Monaghan to the pin of their collars but ultimately lose and we’re not interested in moral victories. We are going to Clones to win,” he stated.
It was a difficult league campaign for Fermanagh that ultimately ended in relegation to Division Three but the championship is a new day and a new competition although Breen says that they must learn the lessons from the league.
“There is an aspect of ‘the league is gone, forget about it’, but at the same time there was a reason we got relegated. We made mistakes, we were wasteful and there was things that we weren’t doing so we have to learn from them. You can’t just forget completely about the league because if you do that the mistakes will rear their head again in the championship. We were leaking goals in the league and we must rectify that and that’s something we have been working on. We didn’t get enough scores in the league either, and again we are looking to put that right. So we’ve been working on what didn’t go right for us in the league but in saying that there has been no negative affect on us from the league, morale is very good in the camp and we’re looking forward to the championship,” he added.
When Fermanagh take to the Clones pitch on Saturday evening it will have been seven weeks since their last competitive game but Breen feels that the length of the break has been beneficial for the players and management.
“Having that gap was important for us. If you had played Monaghan right after the league it would have been very tough to lift things because we were down after being relegated. We had a lot of work to do after the league and the training was tough but we all put our shoulder to the wheel. Pete set out what he wanted us to do and everybody has got down to it and worked hard,” said the Tempo Maguires man.
And he knows that it is going to take a massive effort by everybody in a green shirt if Fermanagh are to come through on Saturday night.
“Monaghan are laced with quality players, the likes of Jack McCarron and Conor McManus are among the best forwards in Ireland and have racked up some big scores in the league so we need to watch them carefully. But Monaghan have players all over the field who are capable of getting scores. Fintan Kelly and Colin Walshe are defenders but they also chip in with scores while you have somebody like Kieran Hughes who is another big player for them. It’s not just a case of stopping one or two players, Monaghan have quality all over the pitch.”
However, he feels that the longer Fermanagh can stay in touch with Monaghan then the more pressure will be heaped on to the home side.
“The longer we are in the game the more doubt will creep into Monaghan’s heads. They are under pressure and we have nothing to lose. Apart from within the group, no-one is expecting us to get a result and in a way it is a good enough place to be as Fermanagh teams usually thrive in situations like this,” he stated.