Rory Gallagher tasted his first defeat as Fermanagh manager with a four point loss to Tyrone in the McKenna Cup semi-final on Sunday at Brewster Park.
In tough conditions this was a hard fought encounter with no quarter given or asked by either side but Gallagher felt that the key period of the game was the spell before half time when Tyrone tagged on two points to go three ahead and Fermanagh were reduced to 14 men after Kane Connor picked up a second yellow card.
“I thought it was a real good battle and it was really intense. There were two teams going at it really hard and it was very hard fought.
“It was always going to be difficult for us once we lost a man and probably the period before half time when we went from 0-04 to 0-03 down to 0-06 to 0-03 down and lost a man was key,” he said.
The Fermanagh manager also felt that Tyrone made fewer errors than his side and although Fermanagh were in contention throughout the game, he admitted that they never really looked like they would go on to win the contest
“Tyrone are a very experienced team, they are on the road a long time and they do a lot of things right. They were very measured in what they did and ultimately they made less mistakes than us.
“It was going to be difficult but we did well on their kick outs and we had our fair share of the ball but we lacked a bit of punch and maybe a wee bit of quality coming through there at times in the second half.
“It was a good test for us and we would like to have taken it down to the wire but we didn’t really look like winning it. We had maybe half a sniff of a goal chance at the end but we needed to get it down to two points or one point and that would disappoint me in the second half that we didn’t,” he added.
Overall though the McKenna Cup has served Fermanagh well with Gallagher getting to cast his eye over a number of new players.
One of those to impress was Pat Cadden. The St. Pat’s player who plays his club football as a forward and previously represented Fermanagh as an attacker has caught the eye as a goalkeeper, a position he has played in local soccer with Enniskillen Town and he has looked composed and assured during the competition.
“I would be very happy with Pat and to be fair I thought that Tom played very well in the game that he played,” said Gallagher. 
“One of the things is that use of the ball and being that extra outlet, I thought he did very well and he has a cleansheet against Tyrone. 
“We need to work on the kicking, we know that, but there is a big challenge for everybody in the squad to improve.”
There has also been a return to county colours for Seamie Quigley with the Roslea man hitting 1-07 against Donegal but Gallagher stresses that the forward still has plenty of work to do.
“He is an addition and he just needs to get the head down now. He has a good bit to go fitness wise, but if he keeps working hard I think he will get there,” he added.
Another player coaxed back into inter-county football is Donagh’s  Eamon Maguire and although a shoulder problem kept him out of the McKenna Cup Gallagher says that the fleet footed attacker is in good shape as the league fast approaches.
“Eamon is in really good condition but he just had to get a wee injection. 
“He had a bit of a niggle with the shoulder and while we would have wanted to have got him a game in the McKenna Cup it was just not worth the risk,” he stated.
Two other players who didn’t feature in the McKenna Cup due to injury were last season’s top scorer Tomás Corrigan and Ciaran Corrigan of Maguiresbridge but Gallagher believes both will be back in time for the the opening game in the league, a meeting with Wexford at Brewster Park on January 28.
“We will look to get Tomás back, he is another quality forward, and Ciaran Corrigan is another who I’m looking forward to getting back and if we can get those boys back we will be in good stead for the start of the league” said the Fermanagh manager.