Fermanagh manager Maurice McLaughlin was not surprised by the performance or the result as his side saw off a highly rated Down outfit to progress to the Ulster Minor Championship last four with victory at Brewster Park on Sunday.

Indeed, McLaughlin was already planning ahead for training this week from the end of last week such was his belief in his charges.

“The last thing I told the lads on Thursday night when we were training in Brewster Park was that I booked Derrygonnelly for training on Tuesday and Thursday night this week and I came up the Shore Road this morning and I told them that I had no doubt that was going to happen.

“We expected to win this game, nobody else probably did,” said a delighted McLaughlin.

And he feels that Fermanagh winning games like this should not be counted as an upset.

“We won a game today, there should be no big mystery about that. The day that Fermanagh class themselves as the major underdogs, that shouldn’t be. Fermanagh can do what Monaghan, Armagh, Tyrone, Donegal or any other team in Ulster can do, it is just a matter of getting structured up properly, prepared properly, work hard and anything is possible,” he said.

Fermanagh’s efficiency in front of the posts was a major factor in the win, especially in the period before half time, and it was something that the management had drummed into the players beforehand.

“We are constantly telling these guys that when you get the opportunity you must capitalise. We had worked a lot on training on our transition play and when those opportunities arrive you really have to be converting them. I didn’t realise until afterwards when the stats man told me that we scored ten times from eleven shots and that was very pleasing.”

Down did hit back early in the second half with a goal to cut the home side’s lead back to two but the response to this pleased the manager.

“It was crucial that we got the next score after the goal and the fact that we got the next two scores after the goal was very important. It was the reaction that we would have expected from them but also the one that we needed at that time,” he said.

Other than that the Fermanagh defence was resolute as they restricted the Down attack to five scores of which only the goal came from play.

“We felt that if we didn’t concede goals that we would win the game and we wouldn’t have conceded the goal that we did only for an unforced error, but that happens. “Defensively, I felt that we were very solid. We were very disciplined and to only cough up one score from play is brilliant,” he added.

Fermanagh had to withstand late pressure from the Mournemen with McLaughlin applauding the work rate of his side.

“The work rate was outstanding. I suppose the last ten minutes on reflection we were maybe a bit on the backfoot. Diarmuid King ran out of legs and when he went off it did make a bit of a difference but the lads who came in did really well in just linking things up and helping us stay in control of the game.”

The Erne boss was disappointed with having to leave nine players from his squad at home for the game given the restrictions but stressed that they were a motivating tool on the day.

“We had nine lads who couldn’t be there with us today which was disappointing and they were a big motivating factor for us. Our panel is 1-33 and that victory was as much for those lads as anybody else,” he stated.

Next up then is a meeting with Monaghan on January 3 and McLaughlin says that the management team will be looking for a further improvement from Sunday.

“No more than with Down, we will be focusing on ourselves and the way that we will approach the game is that today’s performance will not be good enough for the next day. We will have to up our work rate, up our scoring and just raise the bar again,” he concluded.