Fermanagh ladies look for that so far elusive All Ireland title this Sunday in their Junior replay with Derry. The sides drew at Croke Park two weeks ago with Fermanagh staging a dramatic comeback in the final quarter having trailed by nine points. There weren’t too many within Croke Park who felt that there was a way back for the Erne girls but thankfully the majority that did were on the pitch playing in the green and white. One of those, Marita McDonald reveals what it was like in that frantic last quarter;
“I never really thought the game was gone. There was a few of us playing who had the experience of 2013 against Tipp when we took it for granted that we had it won when we were four up with a minute and a half to go but we ended up beaten. So that crossed my mind when I looked up at the scoreboard and the clock. Things can change so much and we just kept playing and kept looking for the openings,” she explained.
McDonald lives in Mayo and plays her football with Castlebar but her dedication to the Fermanagh cause has remained true. Making her two hour journey for training McDonald is well placed to talk about the mood in the camp;
“We have just put the head down and got focused. We know we got out of jail and we are just glad that we still have a chance. Derry did their homework on us and knew who our go to players were and you have to give them credit for the way they played,” she said.
Fermanagh had three big wins over Derry before that drawn encounter in headquarters and there is no doubt that Fermanagh were the warmest of favourites entering that final but the underdogs raised their game and as McDonald admitted, it took Fermanagh some time to come to terms with their surroundings;
“Croke Park is a different beast. You’re on the field and trying to work it all out, it is very hard to hear anything from the line so it was difficulty and maybe it is something we underestimated on the day. In the end though we were able to compose ourselves and get back in the game.”
Looking forward to the replay McDonald is clear about what she and her team-mates need to do in order to produce a better performance;
“We need to be more composed from the start and also more aggressive on breaking ball and fifty fifty balls and not give Derry an extra few yards. We will have to stick very very tight from the first whistle and compete for every single ball,” she said before adding;
“And we also have to make sure that we put the ball dead and be much more efficient in front of the posts and make sure that we take the right option in possession. So there is a lot to work on but we can take comfort in the fact that we played very poorly for a long time and still managed to come out with a draw the last day, so we are looking on that as a positive.”