Fermanagh U20 manager Ollie Fay expects a massive battle when his side take on Donegal in the Ulster Championship at Brewster Park on Friday night but he stresses that they will be setting their sights on a win and a place in the semi-final of the competition.

“Donegal will be a massive step up and we know that they will give us a serious, serious challenge. In their group in the Philly McGuinness Cup they scored 12 goals and we know they are going to have a big goal threat. They are a typical Donegal team, they play a hard running game so we will have our work cut out to nullify that. Having said that, we will be going out to play our game, we’ll be going out to win the game and we are looking forward to getting at it,” he stated.

Fay has no shortage of quality to call upon in his own squad with the likes of Ultan Kelm, Johnny Cassidy, Darragh McGurn, Lorcan McStravick and Callum Jones having been part of Rory Gallagher’s senior set up while he also has a large number of the St Michael’s team that went on to claim Hogan Cup glory in the spring.

He admits though that it has been difficult in terms of not having had access to the full squad until recently and he feels that Croke Park may need to look at the timing of the competition.

“We started out in January and did a few trials and obviously with the lads doing so well in the MacRory Cup and the Hogan Cup and with five U20s with the seniors we kind of hadn’t much access to them up until a few weeks ago. The MacRory fellas were in the middle of doing exams, and we had to give them the freedom to catch up on things in regards to those but over the last few weeks we have got them in and then the lads in the senior set up have come in since Fermanagh got knocked out.

“Croke Park might need to reconsider when this competition is scheduled. These lads are being pulled in all different directions what with exams and clubs and everything else. Maybe the timing of the competition needs looked at and maybe when Croke Park sit back and reflect and get a bit of feedback from other counties they might have a rethink on it.

“Having said that, we have been training well, the spirit is good and everybody is in a good place and we are looking forward now to getting at it on Friday night.”

Fermanagh claimed two wins from their three Philly McGuinness Development League games, the only loss coming against Sligo, but Fay believes those games have been very beneficial to both the squad and the management.

“We went out on the first day against Sligo and conceded four goals and we learnt a lot from that game. We went back to the drawing board and rejigged things and put players in different positions and it helped us over the remaining two games. It was a learning experience for us as a management team and for the players and it maybe helped us get a connection between management and players,” he said.

Fermanagh will have home advantage on Friday night and while Fay welcomes that he understands that it provides no guarantee of result.

“Home advantage is a good thing and it is a help but it doesn’t win games for you. It is an old cliche, but it is the team that works the hardest and that wants it the most, that’s the team that will come out on top,” he stated.

Fermanagh would appear on paper to have a strong squad with a lot of options, particularly in attack, and Fay acknowledges that the bench is now key in any game.

“It is the bench that finishes out a game and the bench that drives things on. Years ago it was about the starting 15 and if you were a sub you felt a bit disheartened but now the bench come in to drive things on. We have players on the bench who are well capable of coming in and making a big impact and hopefully it will be a help to us.”

And he says that his squad is young, there will be no fear when they take to the Brewster Park pitch on Friday night.

“These lads are confident, there is All Ireland medals and Ulster Club medals in our panel and next Friday night won’t phase them, they have been there and done it. The big thing for us will be getting them to click and hopefully things then fall into place on the night,” he added.