New Fermanagh ladies captain Courteney Murphy admits that it was somewhat of a shock when Jonny Garrity announced her as captain for the upcoming season, but the Kinawley defender is looking forward to the challenge.

Now her aim is to help the Erne side build on the impressive season in 2019, which saw them contest three finals, winning Division Four.

“I was delighted when they first asked me,” explained Murhpy.

“Because obviously it is a great privilege and on the back of last year and the successful year we had.

“And with Joanne as captain last year, she has set the bar really high.”

This year, plying their trade in Division Three, Murphy accepts that it will be a huge step up in class for Fermanagh but she knows that this is the level they need to be competing at if they are to continue the progress they have seen since Jonny Garrity and his management team took over.

Although they have taken the step up, the aims are still the same, to be as competitive and successful as possible.

“I think we definitely want to be staying in Division Three. It will be hard because it is a big step up from Division Four but I think playing the stronger teams up there will stand to us when it comes to championship.

“Last year we were disappointed we didn’t win the Ulster title when Antrim beat us in the final so we definitely want to win Ulster and then getting back to Croke Park is a big aim and do ourselves a bit more justice on the day and hopefully win an All-Ireland.”

Although they have played a number of challenges matches, including against quality opposition like Armagh and Monaghan, Fermanagh’s first competitive test comes in the form of Kildare on Sunday in the first round of the league.

For Murphy it will be nice to lead her team out on her home pitch in Kinawley, but she is well aware of the difficult challenge the Lilywhites will bring in the league opener.

“Just going off where they have stood the last couple of years they are definitely a top four team.

“And they would probably be looking to push out of the division so it is definitely going to be a difficult game, probably one of our more difficult games.

“But it is a home game which is good because we only have three home games. At least we are starting off at home and hopefully we can use that to our advantage.”

Turnover in the Fermanagh squad has been quite high from 2019 to 2020.

Important and experienced players such as Murphy’s clubmates Joanne Doonan, the Maguire sisters Lisa and Danielle, along with Aisling Woods, Noelle Connolly and Maria Maguire to name but a few are unavailable for selection this season.

It puts the onus on the likes of Murphy to lead from the front and make sure the new faces in the squad get up to speed with how the Fermanagh ladies play the game.

But she has been impressed with the application of those in the squad: “I think the way it is most years you are going to get a good turnover of players.

“That’s just the nature of ladies football I suppose but coming from last year we have lost three or four starting forwards but the pre season started earlier this year and there are a lot of new faces and it has been really encouraging.

“We have had three or four challenge games and the new girls have just transitioned seamlessly into what we are trying to do.”

The Kildare game will give and early indication of where Fermanagh are at but Murphy is confident that if they stick to the tactics and process which have worked from them over the last year they will be hoping to build on the successful season of 2019.

And for Murphy, now in her fourth year of senior county football, she hopes there will be more silverware to collect throughout the forthcoming season.