Fermanagh manager Rory Gallagher says he will approach the new experimental rules that will be in play this weekend when his side meet UUJ in the McKenna Cup with an “open mind”, but it does seem that the Erne boss will take some convincing on a few the proposed changes.

“I think you have to try and approach it with an open mind, that’s what is laid in front of us. There are number of them which are inconsequential like the sin binning and the kick outs. I don’t see them having a massive impact,” he said before turning his attention to the mark and three hand pass rule;

“I think the mark is going to be difficult to implement and I would have preferred if they stuck to the original of kicking from outside the 45 to inside the 21. I think they have made it hard on themselves and it will be open to interpretation. When it comes to the hand pass I find it strange that they are going ahead with it given 96 percent of the players were against it. But look they are in play now and we have to go with it.”

As always there are a number of new faces to the panel and Fermanagh fans can expect to see those players get plenty of action in the in the coming games with a more experimental look to the team on the horizon compared to last season’s McKenna Cup:

“I think last season it was our first year in and we wanted to get a settled team for the league so the teams we put out in the McKenna Cup had a lot of experienced players on them. If you look at the semi final against Tyrone we had a lot of what you would call mainstays in the team. This season we have a number of the more established players who are just coming back from injury and we will use more of the squad this time around and try to develop the squad last year.”

In terms of some of the new faces for 2019 Gallagher has been pleased with what he has seen so far.

“It has been good to get the likes of Richard O’Callaghan and Ciaran Flaherty back. It is good to get men coming back in as well as young fellas. Those two boys would be very well developed and that is a big start. And the likes of Johnny Cassidy and Darragh McGurn from those younger fellas have been going very well and we would be pleased with what we see from Kevin McDonnell as well.”

In terms of the McKenna Cup itself there is a much earlier start this season with all teams in the group wanting to get a game under their belts before the Christmas season:

“I was pleased that the Ulster Council were able to accommodate the teams. We normally play some sort of challenge games round this time but it frees things up for us and few fellas have a few days away around the Christmas time so it helps us in that regard.”

Last season Fermanagh emerged from a group that consisted of Donegal and Monaghan and played Tyrone in a competitive semi-final encounter and Gallagher knows that the McKenna Cup can be a valuable asset when it comes to preparing for the league ahead:

“I think those games last year really stood to us. We played three teams who ended up in the super eights in Tyrone, Donegal and Monaghan. One played in the final and one reached the semi-final. So we want to get as much out of the McKenna Cup as possible. Jordanstown are always competitive, and I don’t thin anyone thinks Derry are a division four team and then you have Tyrone who will obviously be very strong. So We are looking forward to it.”

Reiterating that he would have an open mind when it comes to the new rules Gallagher did ponder what were the motives behind some of the proposed changes:

“The one thing that has been coming out is that people seem to want to see physical contests. I would say that there are a lot of ways to have contests in Gaelic football. People can use their minds and brain in a contest. There a lot of teams who might not want to see as many physical contests, who want to keep the ball because it suits them more. So there does seem to be a bit of a collision when it comes to styles and what people want.”