WHEN Fermanagh were playing well last Sunday against Down, Tomás Corrigan was not far away from the play.

The full forward accounted for six of Fermanagh’s 11 points, and although only one was from play, he was a constant target in the full forward line, while his accuracy from placed balls was unerring.

For the Kinawley club man, however, despite a strong personal showing, it paled in comparison to the feeling of disappointment following the defeat to Down, which ended a dismal season for the Erne county.

Looking back at the game, Corrigan was candid in his assessment of the Ulster Championship quarter-final.

“We started relatively okay. The score was low but we were keeping ahead of Down and easing ourselves into the game,” Corrigan said.

“We should have been ahead at half-time, but I didn’t think that would be an issue because there was no wind or anything, and I thought we were starting to play a bit better.”

Fermanagh had cut a two-point Down lead to level matters after five minutes of the second half, courtesy of two Corrigan frees, but the decisive moment in the game came just minutes later when Down grabbed their goal.

Fermanagh never recovered and it looked as if the heads dropped on the Fermanagh side.

“We had a poor league campaign and our confidence was probably low. When you get relegated and you go into a championship, your confidence levels aren’t where you would like them to be.

“And a goal is a sucker punch of a score to be on the receiving end of. I just felt that, with no supporters there even to drive us on.

“But I’m looking for excuses here. We just weren’t good enough to recover from that score, and that’s extremely disappointing,” said Corrigan.

A big part of Down’s game was based around their pace and it was instrumental in the goal, with Caolan Mooney driving towards the Fermanagh goal in the build-up.

Although having a quiet game overall, it was this piece of brilliance that set Down on their way and Corrigan admits that while he had been highlighted as a threat, you have to give credit where it is due.

“Caolan Mooney was on our radar as being a big threat for them. I thought we did okay on him; limited him in the first half.

“Then, in the second half, he just produced. He’s a really good player and sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and say he got one over us there and created a good goal chance.

“Probably we should have looked to foul him earlier, but these are all the what-ifs you look back on.

“I thought Down did their job very well – they knew what system they were playing, and everyone knew their roles, and they were just better than us.”

Down go on to face Cavan in the Ulster semi-final in what is perceived to be the easier side of the draw, and Corrigan sees the defeat to Down as a missed opportunity at another chance to reach the Ulster Final.

“Yeah, that’s the really disappointing thing – the draw, when it was made last year, you couldn’t have picked a better draw.

“We avoided all the big teams – Tyrone, Donegal, an improving Armagh team – so each team on that side of the draw probably fancied themselves.

“It does make the defeat even harder to take when you know you are very capable of beating all the teams on that side, and getting to an Ulster Final would have been nice.”

It will be a winter of reflection for the Fermanagh squad as they look back at a disappointing 2020 season that saw them relegated from Division Two, and fall at the first hurdle in the championship.

A Covid outbreak just before the return of county football hampered Fermanagh’s preparation, and while Corrigan does feel it had an affect on the last three competitive games Fermanagh played, he feels the team were not good enough throughout the year.

“You want to be able to train with a full panel and we missed a couple of weeks of training, and with the shortened season that it is now, those weeks probably were crucial.

“Covid definitely hampered our goal to stay in Division Two. It disrupted our preparation for that crucial Clare game. We lost that and we had nothing really to play for against Laois, and we lost that as well.

“It was definitely a factor, but Covid isn’t to blame for our whole season. We just weren’t good enough all year, and that’s just the simple fact of it,” concluded Corrigan.