Fermanagh had a disappointing league campaign that culminated in relegation to Division Three - but captain Eoin Donnelly knows that will be forgotten about if they can see off Down on Sunday and book their place in the Ulster Championship semi-finals.

Donnelly will be entering his ninth championship season having made his debut under Peter Canavan back in 2012.

And he is hoping that this year’s campaign will stretch beyond Sunday.

“Teams are remembered for how they do in the championship and things look so much different if you get a win in the championship. The league gets forgotten about very quickly if you get a win,” he stated.

Donnelly accepts that while Fermanagh were competitive in the majority of their games in Division Two, they can have no complaints about the drop to Division Three.

“The Armagh game was the most disappointing one but in the other games were were competing right through and we felt that in every other game we were in with a chance of winning and there are a couple of games that we should have won.

“The way the league worked out, another couple of wins, which was very achievable, we would have stayed up.

“It was a very tight division and if one or two games go against you then you are relegated.

“Look, by and large during the league we just weren’t good enough. We didn’t finish out games and we didn’t have good enough performances so we can’t be too annoyed, the table doesn’t lie,” he said.

When the season ground to a halt in March Fermanagh were already sitting bottom of the table and defeat when they returned in October to Clare sealed their fate with the Ernemen having to play the game with a depleted squad due to a Covid-19 outbreak.

It was a game they could, and probably should, have won while they then suffered a late collapse when leading by five against Laois in their final league game.

“Going down to Clare we obviously had a lot going on and to have got out of the relegation scrap would have been a massive boost but realistically we knew it was going to be tough as we were already at the bottom of the table,” said the Coa man, who felt that Fermanagh produced some of their best football of the season in the Laois game. Indeed, he feels that what happened in those closing stages will be used to drive them on ahead of the clash with the Mournemen.

“It will be remembered for the comeback that Laois put up but we were in control for 60 or 65 minutes before it changed quickly over the last ten minutes. That ten minute spell at the end was the disappointing part but it will also be the part that is going to be used to drive us on at training ahead of the Down game.

“The boys will know now what happens when you switch off in games, especially games which are knock out like this Sunday,” added Donnelly.

And he states that it is a good thing that there is such a quick turnaround as Fermanagh don’t have much time to dwell on that relegation.

“The way things are this year, you don’t have a six or seven week break to the Championship, it is a quick turnaround so you just have to park it, it is done, and just move on. It is probably a good thing for us, we don’t have much time to mull over things and we have to quickly turn our attention to Down,” commented Donnelly.

He also believes that the fact that Fermanagh have had two competitive games to round off the league will stand to them compared to Down who saw their game against Leitrim given as a walk over before they were able to try out players in their final game having already been promoted.

“At least we had a competitive game against Clare and then we had the Laois game whereas Down didn’t get that opportunity with the game against Leitrim not being played,” he explained.

However, he does accept that Down, having switched divisions with Fermanagh after gaining promotion from Division Three, will come to Brewster Park as favourites.

“They will probably come into the game as favourites after getting promoted and us being relegated but there is not a lot between Division Two and Division Three, the teams are all fairly well matched. It is also going to be different in that it is all or nothing, there is no backdoor so you have to hit the ground running.”

Fermanagh’s main failing in the league was not taking chances when they were presented and Donnelly knows they will have to improve on that on Sunday while he also acknowledges that they need to be disciplined at the back.

“I think it will be a tight game and it will come down to who is going to take their opportunities. That’s the way of football now, if you don’t take your opportunities at one end and then you are turned over the ball very quickly is at the other end of the field.

“They are a team that has nippy inside forwards who are going to be looking to get frees and we are going to have to be very disciplined as well.We are going to have to tackle well and not give away frees.

“I think you also have to take into account that it is winter time so you don’t know the way that is going to effect the game, it could be wet and slippy,” he added.

There is no doubt that this has been a tough and different year but the Fermanagh skipper says that even if it is November, there is still that same excitement coming into championship.

“Just even seeing Championship football coming back on television this weekend and all that and the fact that it is straight knockout, that is exciting and regardless of whether you are going to have supporters at the ground or not, you are still there to represent your county which is something that you always want to do.

“We want to go out and give as good an account of ourselves as possible,” he added.

And Donnelly has not given up on getting his hand on that elusive Ulster medal just yet.

“It’s still what you aim for.

“We are realistic, Fermanagh have never won Ulster but hopefully we can get there sooner rather than later and you want to give everything for as long as you can to try and reach that goal.

“First off we have to try and get over Down and see where we go from there and that is going to be a big ask,” he said.