The introduction of the Tier Two Championship will bring a whole new intensity to Division Two according to Fermanagh boss Ryan McMenamin.

The Ernemen begin their league campaign this Sunday with a difficult encounter against Jack O’Connor’s Kildare side in Newbridge and McMenamin acknowledges that there is a lot more at stake now that the league is linked to championship.

“The league is always important and it is a fantastic competition and a great one to play in but with the Tier Two thing it changes the whole dynamic of Division Two and Division Three. Teams are looking to play in the top tier, certainly we don’t want to play in Tier Two, so it brings a whole new significance to it and you will see games played at a championship level,” he said.

Getting off to a good start to the league is always high on each county’s list of priorities but McMenamin accepts that his side face a tough opening run with the game against Kildare followed by a home meeting with last year’s Connacht champions Roscommon.

“I think every team is looking to get enough points on the board early doors, even when I was playing you wanted to get the points on board at the start.

“It is a very tough start, we begin with two of the top teams in Kildare and Roscommon but we have to try and get something out of somewhere.

“That’s what happens though when you play in the top two divisions, you meet the top teams, but it is the place you want to be and you would rather be preparing for this game than maybe the likes of a Waterford. It is going to be tough but it is also enjoyable,” he stressed.

The Fermanagh manager knows it is a case of taking it one game at a time and he has made no bones about the fact that since they have started out this season that the focus has been on this opening clash with Kildare.

“As I have said, it is a tough game. They have Jack O’Connor in so they mean business and as a team they have maybe underachieved in recent years. They have a great age profile in their team and they are looking to get in a lot of the U20s who won the All Ireland a couple of years ago so they are going to be there or thereabouts. We are going to have to go there and do our best and Fermanagh maybe play their best football when their backs are to the wall.

“It is a tough ask but we will meet it head on,” he explained.

The sides met in the league last year and on that occasion Fermanagh came out on top in Brewster Park. McMenamin though feels that Kildare may be a different proposition this time around.

“Kildare have had a good start to the season and the one thing they didn’t have last year was Daniel Flynn but he is back and on his day he is one of the best full forwards in Ireland and he gives them a focal point which they didn’t have last year. We are just going to have to manage and hopefully our full back line can handle him,” he commented.

Fermanagh’s McKenna Cup campaign saw two defeats as McMenamin waits for his first win as manager but he was reasonably satisfied with the two games as whole.

“We were happy with what we got out of the McKenna Cup. In terms of finding players and getting players up to playing county level, for a few of the younger fellas it was good for them to sample it and hopefully it gives them a kick on that they can go on and play county football. It was also maybe an eye opener of where they have to get to,” said the Tyrone All Ireland winning defender.

He admits though that preparations have been hampered by the weather in the last week or so.

“The weather has played havoc with preparations at the minute and we have been struggling to get pitches. Also with the U20s and Sigerson it is difficult but we have to make the most of it.”

In terms of personnel, McMenamin will be without the suspended James McMahon for Sunday’s clash and has a number of other niggles to contend with. “We would have a number of boys carrying knocks while James McMahon is suspended so we are just managing things at the minute,” he said.

However, he should be able to field a strong hand with Che Cullen due to fly in from Budapest for the game.

“Che will hopefully be back for the game. He is training away in Budapest and he got a couple of good sessions in when he was home at Christmas. I was chatting him the other day and he is ready to go for Kildare,” added McMenamin.

At the other end of the pitch, Ricey knows that they have to make the most of their chances and they will need to post bigger totals. The return of Tomás Corrigan should help with that while the management will hope that Darragh McGurn continues his progress at senior level.

“Scores win games and over the last couple of years we probably haven’t been scoring enough. It is the way the game has changed and you have to change with it.

“It is a building process in trying to get the scores on the board and the boys know that. We have to get that balance right between scoring and defending,” he said.