Fermanagh manager Ryan McMenamin remains hopeful that there will be a championship played in 2020.

McMenamin should have been preparing his side for an Ulster Championship meeting against Down at Brewster Park this Sunday but the Covid-19 pandemic has led to sport being put on hold.

The latest statement from Croke Park has advised that they do not expect any inter-county football until October at the earliest and McMenamin is optimistic that there will be action towards the end of the year although he acknowledges that it is very much a changeable situation.

“Croke Park had originally said July and have had to push it back but it is a fluid situation and you would hope that if the numbers get better that things could be moved forward.

“Look, I think we are going in the right direction and you like to be optimistic about it and think that there is going to be some sort of football this year but we’ll have to wait and see. I think you always live in hope, Croke Park have given the October date and you would like to think that you could be going in October or November,” said McMenamin.

There has been a lot of talk about the type of championship that would be played if, and when, football does return and that is likely to be dependent on the time there is available to run it off but McMenamin would like to see the provincial championships retained.

“I think without a doubt you would love to see an Ulster Championship and I think Croke Park intend at this stage to go ahead with the provincials and it would be great.

“Looking at the timescale, you would imagine that it is just going to be a knockout championship but if the numbers do get better and there is more time then maybe there could be a backdoor but at the minute I would think it will just be straight knock out which will probably take about eight weeks to complete,” added the former Tyrone All Ireland winning defender.

The GAA have also asked for inter-county squads to stop training until further notice and the Fermanagh boss explains that they have had a relaxed approach to matters anyway with no group virtual sessions having taken place.

“We have been laid back about it, the fellas have been doing their programmes on their own so they were happy enough.

“Look, today’s inter-county players, they are always doing a bit and training away whether it is a programme or not. It’s maybe a generational thing that players today are into their fitness and into their weights, it is the mindset of the younger player, they have a more active outlook on their health and they get enjoyment of it. The boys are happy to tip away by themselves and they are smart enough to know that they do have to stay in some sort of shape.”

He accepts though that remaining motivated is hard at present when there is no fixed date to work towards.

“I was listening to Dean Rock recently and he was saying that you go on peaks and troughs and you question whether you should be doing this. There are some days that you can’t be bothered doing anything and others when you could take the world on and it is just about getting through it. That’s why it is good to have that date in July when pitches will hopefully be available and then the October date for a possible return. For the players, it gives them a focus and is something for them to look forward to.

“When you played football you always wanted a date to work to and you would focus on that date. The biggest thing is not knowing and probably having that July 20 date has given a lot of people, not just players but supporters and those that do a lot of voluntary work around the clubs, hope. People are looking forward to football returning, whether club or county,” he said.

At present, it is the players well being that is the main concern for McMenamin and his management team.

“We try to get round all the players, giving them calls and seeing what the craic is and Paul McIvor did a couple of zoom quizzes for a couple of weeks. You would ring around to see how they are getting on, some are probably getting back out to work so different players are at different stages.

“The teachers for example are still off, I know Declan McCusker has never been worked so hard in his life. Any time I phone him he is either washing windows or hoovering, it changed times now he is married! Joking aside, you have to look after the mental wellbeing of players as well and at the end of the day as long as they are mentally and physically healthy, that is the important things,” acknowledged the Fermanagh manager.