It was a disappointing start for Ryan McMenamin in his tenure as Fermanagh manager as his side slipped to a seven point defeat to Down in the McKenna Cup at Brewster Park but he stresses that the main focus is on being ready for the opening round of the league and a trip to Newbridge to face Kildare.

This year’s Division Two has taken on greater importance because of the introduction of Tier Two with the two relegated sides to enter the lower championship if they don’t reach their respective provincial final.

“We have another three or four weeks to go to get miles in the legs before the league and as I always said, the McKenna Cup is the McKenna Cup, but our focus is on the first round of the league and that’s the way it will remain.

“The only show in town at the minute is National League and that is what we are looking to. It is going to be dog eat dog,” he said.

On Sunday, McMenamin named five debutants in his starting line up and another two came off the bench for their first taste of senior inter-county football.

“I think we tried to find a few players and we had six or seven players making their debut. You had a lot of young players in there and you had to give them a go and it’s the time of year for it.”

However, some of the sides familiar problems in front of the posts were still evident against the Mournemen as they failed to take advantage of a dominant start to the contest, racking up 12 wides in all over the 70 plus minutes.

“ I thought maybe our old failings came back, we controlled the game for the first 20 or 25 minutes and should have had four or five scores on the scoreboard but didn’t get them and that’s annoying. In the second half they got a goal from a shot that dropped short but it is the first game and the boys battled hard and you just have to dust yourself off,” said McMenamin.

He was though more pleased with the defensive end of things, especially in the opening 25 minutes.

“Defensively, I thought we defended well but we just didn’t get enough boys up the field as we had talked about to get those quick scores. We had chances and when you miss your frees it puts you on the back foot and we have just got to start scoring more and get the scoring ratio up because defensively I felt we did reasonably well for the first game . We had the likes of Ben Daly and Eoin Shiels playing in the defensive who are two young boys who had never played senior football before so you are happy with that,” he added.

Fermanagh were without a number of more familiar faces for the game but McMenamin expects his squad to get stronger in the coming weeks.

“Ultan (Kelm) is coming back from injury and we probably have to take a long term view. He is back training, he did all the conditioning work with the boys before and hopefully we will have him back in the fold in the next week or so. You have to look after the player’s welfare as well.

“James McMahon is just back off the plane (from Australia) this morning and Tomás Corrigan had flu all week and a few others had niggles,” he explained.

And the Erne boss states that they will change things up and have a look at more players this Sunday away to Antrim.

“We said to the boys that we will change it up going into the Antrim game, that was always the plan regardless if we won or lost. We were always going to give boys their opportunities and stake a claim for Kildare.”

The new rules were also play on Sunday and the forward mark caused confusion in the first half when a Down player called for a mark and the referee blew the whistle to only then hop the ball as the kick in had taken place from inside the 45.

“The player had actually kicked it inside the ‘45, so there you have it in a nutshell. It’s messed up really at county level. I don’t know what it is going to be like at club level, I think it could be carnage.

You look at a couple of them (rules). The stop start of the game, even the black card (sin bin rule) it is not playing time it is just time so it pays for you to slow the game down,” commented McMenamin.