Enniskillen Gaels will travel to Ahoghill on Monday night to take on Dungiven in the quarter-final of the Ulster U21 Club Tournament hosted by Creggan Kickhams.

And manager Brendan Dooris is keen for his side to make their mark in the competition after suffering first round exits in each of the last two years.

“Our boys have had heavy defeats in the last two years in this competition and you tend to learn quite a lot from those type of games, the old saying is that you learn more from your defeats than your victories.

“We’ve never won a game in the U21 Championship so that would be a target for us,” he said.

This crop of Gaels players though have enjoyed success on a provincial level, winning the Ulster Minor Club Tournament just over two years ago and Dooris feels that experience will stand to his players.

“They had a couple of years playing in the St Paul’s tournament and they got great experience from that including winning it which was brilliant so they know what it is all about,” he stated.

The bulk of that Ulster winning team will make up the side that takes to the pitch on Monday night but a sprinkling of younger players have helped to freshen up the panel according to Dooris.

“A lot of our lads have played together for a long time, they know each other inside out, and things have also been freshened up with the introduction of a few of the younger lads, the likes of Ryan McDonnell, Conor Murphy and Ollie Hughes Jordan. They have added a bit of youthful exuberance to it.”

Dooris has a talented squad at his disposal with three players currently involved in Ryan McMenamin’s Fermanagh squad; Johnny Cassidy, Brandon Horan and Callum Jones.

Cassidy will captain the side from the half back line while defensively they will also look to the likes of Josh Horan and Paddy Cassidy.

In the middle of the park, the Gaels have a strong partnership in the shape of St Michael’s Hogan Cup winning captain Brandon Horan and Eoin Beacom while they will then hope that the likes of Jones, Conor Love and John Reihill can get the scores to take them to victory.

First and foremost though, Dooris knows that they cannot afford to let Dungiven build up a head of steam.

“You don’t want to find yourself way behind early in the game, the key is to stay in it and you have to minimise your mistakes,” he added.

The Gaels manager is expecting a physical test from a talented Dungiven but believes his side are able to meet that challenge.

“Dungiven are a very talented team and when you talk about minor or U21 tournaments the Derry champions are generally talked about as potential winners.

“Traditionally, Derry teams would be big, physical teams and you would expect a battle and I don’t think Dungiven will be anything different but I think we have a big side too.

“A lot of the players this year are experienced senior players with at least one or even two or three seasons of senior football so the physical challenge shouldn’t be anything new to them.

“Fermanagh football in general has changed, we were normally smaller and lighter than opposing teams in the past but the generations coming through now, because of the work they put in at strength and conditioning, they are no longer being physically dominated,” he said.

Preparation for the game have not been ideal for Enniskillen for a number of reason but Dooris is delighted with the fitness of the squad.

“The boys have been working hard but it has been difficult. There has also been big demands on the players. We had players involved with Fermanagh U20s, the MacRory Cup and we have three players in the senior county set up so we have only really been able to have a couple of sessions with everybody there. On top of that the weather hasn’t helped either, but I’m very pleased with the fitness levels at the minutes, they are very good for this time of year,” he commented.

And he believes that those fitness levels could be telling when the game is in the melting pot.

“Because of the weather and the time of the year I don’t think it will be high scoring and I can’t see there being much in it but my plan is to be there or thereabouts with 15 minutes to go.

“ If you can get in the game, stick around and keep it close it is the team that is still running with ten or 15 minutes to go will be the team that comes through,” he concluded.