Former Enniskillen Rangers player and manager Denzil McDaniel selects the best Fermanagh and Western XI that he has played against

In my teens I made my debut for Enniskillen Rangers in 1970 under the late great Sandy Fulton. (What a player he was, and would make any Fermanagh and Western team).

By 1990, despite me having only one and a half knees, I was occasionally doing sub for the then manager Paul Keenan when he was stuck; but in truth I was done in the mid-80s! It’s still a long time to reflect on many players, so trying to pick 11 is a tough task.

In 70-71, we were in the shadow of the treble-winning Enniskillen Corinthians whose club later sadly folded. By 1972-73 despite Rangers being a very young team we won the league under Brian Holmes without losing a game. For the next two decades we had a few lean years but were mostly fighting for honours.

It always seemed to be us and another side battling it out. In the early 70s there were strong Tyrone teams from Victoria Bridge, Mourneview Celtic and Killymore

In the mid-70s, Omagh side Kevlin United emerged as title winners and later in the decade it was Lisbellaw as the main team. Irvinestown also emerged strongly under Pete Keane, and then it was Shelbourne. I always felt Shelbourne in the 80s were the best Junior side of my era; some great footballers and a competitive edge and winning mentality that I admired.

Many of the trophies in the 70s and early 80s were shared among these clubs, but many others produced excellent sides with a lot of individual talent; Kesh, the Keoghs at Lisnarick, Maguiresbridge, Lisnaskea, with the Bensons, particularly Derek and Robbie.

Fivemiletown had a great team in the 70s and deserved to win far more trophies really. Tempo’s pure brand of football in the McPhillips-McCusker-Campbell era was a joy to watch.

Enniskillen Town were emerging and went on to produce some great individual talent in successful sides later.

A lot of teams, then, and a lot of brilliant players; how would you just name 11?

The Fermanagh and Western has always produced talent, and I felt that in former years many more would have progressed in the game if there had been opportunities.

The 11 names here are just personal choices, and I’ve taken a little liberty with the first two in that I played with them for a spell, but I’m including them by judging them on performances against us when they played for other clubs. I’ve made it a 4-4-2.


David Phair (Maguiresbridge)

Great safe hands in dealing with crosses, a good shot stopper and very agile. Great throw out, too, with that cricket bowler’s arm!

I recall a lot of great keepers, Seamus Given (Shay’s father) at Lisnarick, Roy Carroll’s dad, Bob at Fivemiletown, Sammy McFrederick at Lisbellaw, George McFarland at Kesh and Kenny Maguire at Town were all brilliant, but I went for Davy overall.

Right back

Tommy Nolan (Lisnarick)

Tommy was away ahead of his time. Good defender but brilliant going forward too. Great football brain.


Dom Baxter (Shelbourne)

Absolute mountain of a defender with a great temperament but also a very classy footballer. Shelbourne had a wonderful team but Dom was the talisman at the back.


Dessie Donegan (Lisbellaw)

This position came down to two great choices. I liked Kenny Morrow from Fivemiletown, known as “the bomber” who was a great footballer and had a very competitive attitude. But I went for Dessie, he was good in the air because he had a great leap and a firm header, and was also an incredibly tough tackler on the ground and a real battler for his team.


Phil Carleton (Irvinestown)

Great left peg and a great engine which made him a real threat going forward, but also a determined and accomplished defender.


Jimmy Lecky (Mourneview)

I remember him from the early 70s, finding space cleverly in a very tight pitch at Spamount, all-action and breaking from midfield to cause havoc. A lot of good players from the Derg area over the years, not least Norman Coulter, but I remember Lecky most of all.


Walter McVitty (Enniskillen Corinthians)

Emerged as a great talent in the Corinthians and later with the Roadhouse, Walter was one of the most supremely gifted and talented players ever in this area.


Paul McAnea (Shelbourne)

A midfielder with everything, a Paul Scholes-type who ran the show week-in week-out.


Ian McFrederick (Lisbellaw)

A lot of very talented players at Lisbellaw over the years, but I felt Ian was their best-ever. Tall and rangy with an almost languid style, he was a great passer and all-round footballer who, in today’s parlance, was great between the lines.


Trevor Donnelly (Shelbourne)

Described by a friend of mine as “a torture” and that is exactly what he was. Lively, cute and clever, deadly goalscorer, he just never gave defences a minute’s peace.


Paul Cassidy (Irvinestown)

Could have put Cass in midfield, or indeed anywhere in the team such was his class. But I felt his strength, reading of the game and goals were best utilized at the top end of the pitch where he also brought others into play. And by the way, the added bonus is that Paul is the absolute role model of a player and clubman, a great sportsman of integrity.