Lisbellaw United midfielder Paul McGrath selects the best Fermanagh and Western XI that he has played against

This isn’t a simple job, you could easily make two or three best XI’s from players I’ve played against over the last 15/16 years.

There’s many players that I’d have only faced the odd time as they played the majority of their football in higher leagues.

Gary Beckett was different gravy when he came to play in the Fermanagh and Western, James McKenna was a pure beast before moving to Ballinamallard and driving them to the Premiership, Andy Crawford, Cathal Beacom and Ryan Mayse were absolute dangers with the ball at their feet anywhere near the goals.

There’s others who were coming to the end of their careers as I was starting out but you could see they were still classy players, Joe Keenan, Paddy Colton, Seamus Fanthrope and Mark ‘Skino’ Connolly.

So, I’ve concentrated my XI on players who would have always gave us (Lisbellaw) and myself bother down through the years consistently, year in year out.

Goalkeeper

Trevor Morrison (Killen)

Not many teams had an ever-reliable goalkeeper like Paddy for Killen. Many’s a time we’d have been wheeling away about to celebrate and a fingertip would somehow turn the ball around the post or over the bar. Paddy was always worth a goal or two a game to his side.

Right Back

Marty Flanagan (Strathroy Harps)

Firstly, he would never give the ball away, deceptive good in the air for his height and a danger from any free kicks given away, his delivery was on point.

Never looked like missing any penalties we gave him either.

Centre Backs

Benny McElholm (Strathroy Harps)

He’d go through you for a short cut, no nonsense and we rarely got any jam out of him. A danger from set pieces at the other end. Formed a serious partnership with Seamus Fanthrope in my early years.

Richard Johnston (Enniskillen Santos & Enniskillen Rangers)

Edges out Nicky Dunbar here, the two were an excellent partnership at Santos before going their separate ways, similar strong, robust and intelligent players. Never got much change out of either of them during a game, would have played a bit more against Johnston.

Darren McQuade another great centre back as was Benny Boyle who took over from Fanthorpe.

Left Back

Michael Kerr (Enniskillen Rangers)

What a left foot. Felt in trouble any time the ball was at his feet be it a 60 yards racking pass to open us up or when he stepped into our half, a shot from the thunderbolt of a left boot. Remember him beating Willy McFrederick from distance with a rocket at Drumad as cubs. Conor Tummon’s the next best, a great player too.

Right Midfield

Ryan Hanna (Enniskillen Town & Tummery Athletic)

While he rarely played wide right, he was kind of everywhere on the field and I had to find a place for him, serious engine, never stops. A good, honest and committed fella, emptied the tank every Saturday. Scored a few beauts to in Mulhern Cup Semi Finals to knock us out too.

Centre Midfield

William Burleigh (Enniskillen Rangers)

Before the glory day that Rangers find themselves in now, this man was carrying the team and I was glad to see him put some medals on the table for the years and years of service. Went to battle for the red jersey every week and was a superb tackler, strong in the air, box to box denying goals and scoring at the opposite end.

Gerry McCullagh (Tummery Athletic)

Another man who covered every blade of grass on the field, kept things simple, could hit a tackle, great in the air for his height. A leader too, getting the best out of the boys around him. Always knew going to Tummery we’d need to nullify his involvement in the game.

Left Midfield

Darren Teague (Strathroy Harps)

A no brainer here, a thorn in our side every year and someone that could win a game with a moment of genius. Fast feet jinking one way and the other he was always hard to handle and scored some important goals in tight fixtures with us.

Strikers

Mark Jones (NFC Kesh)

A goalscorer plain and simple, every team needs one and he would be getting two goals most weekends. When you thought you’d kept him quiet he’s still pop up with a goal from a half chance. A great servant to Kesh and still banging the goals in.

Frank Wallace (Enniskillen Town)

Another like Jones that just loves scoring goals and would have got plenty against us over the years. Lethal finisher and clinical. When he was running at us, always sensed we were in trouble.

A few others not named in this are the three Irvinestown lads, Ronan Ormsby, Gary Maguire and Stephen Sheridan, we always had bother when them three played. Ryan Cunningham at Tummery in the early years was dangerous while Aidy McCaffrey at both Strathroy and Tummery gave us plenty of bother too.