Fermanagh manager Rory Gallagher admits that his side could not have asked for a tougher draw after they were paired with Monaghan in Round One of the All Ireland Qualifiers with the game to take place in Clones on Sunday June 9 (2pm).

Malachy ORourke’s Farney outfit were the biggest name in the hat for the Qualifiers draw and the one that everybody would have been keen to avoid although they may have felt that there were easier draws for them than Fermanagh too.

Both sides will go into the game looking to put behind Ulster quarter final defeats behind them with Fermanagh having little time to lick their wounds after Sunday’s loss to Donegal in Brewster Park.

The game is also a repeat of last year’s Ulster semi-final when Eoin Donnelly’s late goal sealed a memorable victory for Fermanagh and it is one that Monaghan will be eager to avenge.

“I think it is the toughest draw we could have got, they would be seen as the top seeds in the draw and I suppose we would probably be second seeds when you look at the league tables.

“Ultimately, you want to be playing the best teams although there is no doubt that you would like to have got a kinder draw in the first round but it is what it is and both teams just have to get on with it now,” said Gallagher.

And the Fermanagh boss will be looking to build on and improve on Sunday’s defeat to Donegal when they take on Monaghan with the focus having already switched to the next game when the squad returned to training on Tuesday evening.

“We will get back at it and focus on Monaghan. I know that we lost by six on Sunday but with 10 or 12 minutes to go we were right in the game.

“We did a lot of very good things on Sunday and we will look to work now on getting a good performance on Sunday week,” he added.

Fermanagh went into Sunday’s meeting with Donegal with Gallagher wanting to see a more competitive display from his side than they produced in the Ulster final last year and although they came up short, he was happier with their performance this time around.

“I think we are well improved, and we have more to go, but we competed phenomenally well and that was the biggest disappointment in the Ulster final, we didn’t compete on things like breaking ball, tackling, getting turnovers, going at them in waves.

“I think we did that today but we have just got to add more quality,” he stated.

And it was that bit of extra quality that Donegal had in attack that ultimately proved crucial as Declan Bonner’s men started to find their range in the second half.

“We were playing against a team that are very economical and you seen Patrick and Ciaran Thompson’s shots, they were serious quality.

“They kicked some super scores and they are just scores that we aren’t capable at the minute of coming up with and we need to be able to come up them.

“The type of game we play, we need to be able to get 35-45 yard shots,” he said.

Fermanagh though had managed to restrict Donegal in the opening period of the game with the away side taking 17 minutes to land their first score but Gallagher felt that they needed to get a goal during this spell with Ultan Kelm having opted to fist over early on instead of going for goal.

“The way we went about it and the way we played I think would make most teams nervous. We turned over a lot of ball and I think we played well but we needed to stretch out the lead and we needed to score a goal from some of the breaks.

“I was disappointed that we dropped two or three short in the first half and I think they might have punished us with two scores from them.”

Despite Donegal pushing ahead in the second half, Fermanagh hung in and Gallagher believes that the key spell of the game saw Fermanagh make mistakes at both ends of the pitch.

“From our point of view the missed free at 0-10 to 0-08 was a crucial one and there was also the bounce ball, when Murphy spins one with the outside of the boot and there was a wee bit of panic and we didn’t deal with it.

“It was still going to be a big ask to win the game but those were big moments and at that stage we were giving as good as we got. I would be very disappointed with those,” he added.

There was also shouts for a red card for Donegal’s Paddy McGrath in the second half after a high challenge on Conall Jones but Gallagher felt that referee Joe McQuillan go the call right in brandishing a yellow.

“You’re initial reaction is that you shout but I don’t think it was a red card. I think it was a player coming down and as much as I would like to have seen it at the time, I thought that Joe McQuillan applied common-sense. I would have no problem with that decision,” he said.

There was another goal chance late on but Danny Teague’s effort was blocked however Gallagher does feel that the attacking side of his team’s game has improved this year.

“I thought it was a goal chance and that would have brought us back level. I think our attacking game has improved a lot, I don’t think ultimately we have the quality to kick long range scores at this moment in time but without ripping them to shreds, I thought we attacked really well at times,” he stated.