Completing a full and complete league season remains the ideal scenario, according to the bulk of the Fermanagh and Western Division One Managers.

Doubts had been raised about the viability of the current schedule following the announcement that the latest restrictions would delay the season by four weeks, and the League Management Committee met last week to discuss their options.

The committee stated that they would consider all options, which included shortening the season so each side only played each other once, splitting the league at the scheduled halfway stage, resulting in the teams playing three quarters of the initial fixtures, or playing on as originally planned in an attempt to finish the campaign with a full quota of 26 matches.

While no formal announcement has been made about a change in the way forward for the campaign, the Fermanagh and Western have stated they will look to restart matches on Saturday, November 21, following news that the fonaCAB Junior Cup, originally scheduled for that date, has been pushed back to later in the season.

Rory Judge, Joint Manager of Division One pace-setters Enniskillen Town, is keen to get back in action as soon as possible and play out the full season.

“I don’t think it helps by allowing clubs to continue to have a free week, and in my opinion we have lost another week by not allowing clubs to play this Saturday,” he said.

“The boys are chomping at the bit, and they are sick and tired of doing non-contact stuff. They want to be playing football.

“I think we shouldn’t be losing any weeks where we could possibly get a round of fixtures in, and if we have to go to the end of June to get it played, then so be it.

“Every other sport can go ahead and try to finish the fixtures, and we should be the exact same.”

Rory acknowledges that plans may have to change as the season progresses depending on circumstances and he is also open to the option of splitting the league in two at the halfway stage.


Lisbellaw Manager Kyle McCleery agrees that may be the best alternative if they cannot cram in the full fixture list.

“The format that we laid out at the start of the season, I think we should do our utmost to stick to that and play each teams home and away,” said McCleery.

“That is a big ask, but once we get the green light to go back playing, I feel we need to have midweek games straight away almost for as long as possible.

“If you were playing two games a week where possible, I don’t think you would be too long catching up with where we need to be. That would be my first choice, but my only other option would be to play each team once and then split the league into two sevens.

“That would be 19 fixtures, and I think maybe splitting it would be an option.

“Certainly, I feel like the Fermanagh and Western would need to put out their potential format now. If they are going to say that they are going to play as many games as possible, then that is what we need to go for, and there can be no changing the goal posts in February time.

“It needs to be set out now, because there will be too much at stake later in the season with teams trying to win leagues, or fighting against relegation to change the format then.

“I think we need to decide on a format and stick to it, but I think we should try to get all the games in, and if that means more midweek matches or extending the season a bit, then so be it.”

Enniskillen Rangers boss Michael Kerr agrees that midweek games will be crucial during the rest of the season.

“I know they hoped to play some more midweek games on the 4Gs and that is probably going to have to be the case now,” he said.

“I think every player will want to play football. There has been so little football since March, and I don’t image there will be too many players or Managers complaining about having to play Tuesday and Saturday for a few weeks. That is going to be the best option if they want to get the matches played.”

Scott Robinson is convinced his Kesh players will have no problem adjusting to midweek matches either.

“We want to be back playing, and if they want us to play three times a week then we will do that,” he said.

“The players are motivated and have been doing their own wee sessions in between. We have a chance to play through to next June so why would they cut it?

“They have made the rules and it would look silly if they broke those rules now. Just play the games.

“Players want to play, and there isn’t enough games in the Fermanagh and Western to keep players interested, so this makes it a very interesting season with plenty of games, which is what the boys want.

“We just want to get going again. As a Manager, it is hard to get the players motivated when there is no end product, and I wish they would put the fixtures out now and let us know who we are playing and let us prepare.”

Enniskillen Athletic’s Anthony Fitzpatrick is another Manager who reckons his team would have been ready to step straight back into competitive action this weekend, and he fears a late split of the league may turn out to be necessary if too many games are lost to poor weather.

“I’m disappointed they didn’t schedule any games for this Saturday,” he admitted.

“We have been training, and although it’s not full contact and only 15, you are never going to replicate games at training and there was no reason not to go back into it, especially as we were going straight back into it if the Junior Cup had gone ahead.

“If they have to shorten the season, then I think what they could do is play everyone once and then spilt the league into two.

“I think it will be tough to get the full fixture list in, and what they have to do is start scheduling mid-week games, with different teams on different nights.

“It will be tough to know where to play them, but it is going to have to be done if they are serious about finishing it.”