Fermanagh Ladies commence their Division Four campaign this Sunday with a home game against Antrim and although they have lost five players from the side that sealed the All Ireland Junior title last season, manager Emmet Curry is hopeful that they can be among the contenders for promotion.
Maria Connolly, Sharon Murphy, Marita McDonald, Aishling Moane and Roisin Gleeson are all unavailable for Curry but he is hoping that some of the younger players will step up and take on added responsibility.
“We will be aiming for promotion but we have lost a few players since the end of last season. Maria Connolly, Sharon Murphy, Roisin Gleeson, Aishling Moane and Marita McDonald won’t be available but Danielle Maguire is back and the younger girls like Blaithin Bogue, Eimear Smyth and Danielle McManus are now a year older and we still have a good number of experienced players there as well,” stated Curry.
However, he feels that Division Four is going to be highly competitive.
“It is going to be a tough division. Limerick came down from Division Three and Wicklow beat us in the league semi-final last year and I would imagine that those two will be favourites and there is always a dark horse as well. I have heard that Antrim have been training hard for the last couple of months and you have to remember that they were in an All Ireland Junior final two years ago. If they have all their players out they are a good team and Derry are an improving side. On top of that you have Louth who are going to be playing in the Intermediate Championship this year. It is not going to be easy,” he said.
Antrim are first up for Fermanagh and Curry expects it to be tough with the manager having a goalkeeping dilemma to deal with ahead of the game.
“Roisin has gone and Donna Owens will join up with the squad next week as a goalkeeper but we have to make a decision yet on who will be in nets this week.
“It would be nice to beat Antrim and get off to a good start but it is going to be tough without the missing players. If we could get the win though it would get the tails up,” he stated.
With the league getting underway, Curry believes that things will start to pick up in terms of numbers at training.
“Like last year, it is slow to get going and it has been difficult with very few pitches being available but that’s the way it goes in January up to when the league starts and after that it picks up,” he added.
Curry had also had changes to his backroom team with Josie Boyle stepping down and Michelle Johnston coming into the set up.
“Josie had insisted that she was only coming in for a year and we won the All Ireland which delighted her. Michelle Johnston has now come in and she’s a great addition,” he said.