Ederney and former Fermanagh star Marty McGrath looks back on three memorable games he played in including a win over Donegal, a titanic schools' tussle and a first SFC title for Ederney

Saturday, July 24, 2004 - All-Ireland Qualifier Round Four

Fermanagh 1-10 Donegal 0-12 (aet)

2004 was a brilliant year to be involved with Fermanagh, and the run to the All-Ireland semi-final and subsequent replay against Mayo will stick long in the memory for players and supporters alike.
We produced some really great performances that Summer and, of course, that win over an Armagh side fancied to go on and win the All-Ireland in the quarter-final at Croke Park is one that most people remember the best.
I’ve gone for a different game from that run, though – one where we maybe had to show a different side to our game as we saw off Donegal after extra time in Clones in front of a large Fermanagh support.
The week before, we had beaten Cork in Croke Park, and that came on the back of beating a good Meath side at Brewster Park.

That win over Cork was a big moment for us. It was our first win in Croke Park, and we played some great stuff that day. It was also good to show that the win over Meath wasn’t a one-off, and we were able to back it up.
Everybody was on a high after the Cork game, and of course it will be remembered for Liam McBarron playing the game – before then jumping on a helicopter to go and get married!
It was then on to a meeting with neighbours Donegal in Clones, and this was a different type of game.
It was not as free-flowing as the week before, and it was a wet day, but we just dug in and showed our hunger and belief, and we also had that wee bit of luck that you need.There was just something about us that year.
I always liked playing against Donegal; they are neighbours, and I would have great respect for them, but it was always good to get the better of them.
We didn’t play particularly well that day, but Eamon Maguire scored a superb team goal which helped us lead by one at half time.
I remember at half time Charlie Mulgrew was giving out to us for carrying the ball too much.
He wanted us to lay the ball off and move, but that went out the window at the start of the second half when I caught the ball from the throw-up.
I put the head down and went straight for the goals, and with the boys all screaming at me to pass it, I actually managed to kick the ball over the bar. A rarity for me.
Donegal came back at us and they got in front, although they also had quite a few wides, but they were then to have Brendan Devenney sent off.
He was having a big tussle with Ryan McCluskey, and as the game wore on, he was becoming more and more frustrated, and he picked up a second yellow card and pushed the referee.
We were still one-down though, late on, but I was fortunate enough to land the equaliser – that was the second time in three games we had come from behind to force extra time, as Colm Bradley had landed an unbelievable sideline against Meath to equalise right at the death.
I think this showed the character in the side. It also shows the small margins, because if they don’t go over, then our championship is over.
In extra time, then we were able to shade things to progress to the quarter-final.
I felt that game really stood to us because it left us going into that unforgettable game against Armagh knowing that we had a lot more in us, as we had won without really playing well.

Impartial Reporter: Marty McGrath in action for St. Michael's in 1999.Marty McGrath in action for St. Michael's in 1999.

Sunday, March 28, 1999 - Hogan Cup Semi-Final

St. Michael’s 1-11 Good Counsel 2-10

COLLEGE football is probably the best football you will play. The two years I spent playing MacRory football in St. Michael’s was definitely the most enjoyable football that I had.
You spend your time with the lads and got to know them during school time, and then you train after school and play together.
It probably also helps that we were up there challenging for the big honours – but we were to miss out on the Hogan Cup.
We won the MacRory Cup in 1999, and it was a big occasion for the school as it was the first in seven years.
In the MacRory Cup final, we produced some great football against St. Colman’s and we won the game quite convincingly.
I remember the final was on the Wednesday, and we celebrated that night and then ended up in Gavin McManus’ house, watching the game over and over a couple of times during the night.
That weekend we stayed up in the school itself for training, I suppose Dom [Corrigan] was trying to keep tabs on us, and he was making sure that the boys were preparing right for our semi-final which was against Good Counsel from Wexford who had won the Leinster title.
The game itself was in Parnell Park, which was a tight pitch and that didn’t really suit us at the time, because we had the pace of Colm Bradley up front along with Shane McCabe.

Unrest before the game
Before the game, there was a bit of unrest as to who the referee was, as he was from Leinster and we did feel we had to maybe work harder for our frees that day.
We also felt that we had a good point from Gary Maguire that wasn’t given, and that would have put us a point up in the second half at a crucial stage.
Looking back, things probably didn’t go for us that day, as we also lost our Captain, Ciaran Smith, through injury.
It was a thrilling game, though, and it was a very physical contest. I remember coming off the pitch after it, and I was very sore.
I was up against Eric Bradley that day, and he is somebody I encountered plenty of times down through the years when Fermanagh played Wexford.
He was a very talented footballer, but also very physical. It was just as tough a game as you would play in at that level.
We started the game well and I think we went three points up, but we then conceded two goals in quick succession; one was a deflection off Shane McCabe. 
We recovered well from that though, and early in the second half we led by four points. 
They fought back to level, and it remained very tight.
We had the chances to win the game, but we had four wides in a row going into injury time, and they then kicked two points to snatch it from us. It was just so disappointing.
It was a tough defeat to take, because we had put so much into it – as did God Counsel, obviously – but what made it even harder to take was a few weeks later, Good Counsel walked away with the All-Ireland. 
It was a case of ‘what could have been’, but it’s something you just have to accept.
The game still stands out to me as it was the last time I played with the group of boys for St. Michael’s, and it was a great, physical battle.

Impartial Reporter: Declan McCusker and Marty McGrath lift the New York Cup at Brewster Park last year.Declan McCusker and Marty McGrath lift the New York Cup at Brewster Park last year.

Sunday, September 27, 2020 - Fermanagh SFC Final

Ederney 2-08 Derrygonnelly 1-06

TO FINALLY secure a Senior championship title with my club last year is something that I will always remember.
Ederney hadn’t won the senior title in 52 years, and although we had been knocking on the door for a number of years, we hadn’t managed to get over the line.
For me, the key thing on the day was that the boys produced a performance at the right time. 
Generally, in a championship final, if you had ten boys who performed you would be doing well, but on that particular day we had 15-plus boys performing – it is rare that happens, but thankfully it did, and we needed that to get past a team like Derrygonnelly.
To win it two or three times in a row is a massive achievement, but Derrygonnelly were going for six in a row, which just shows you how good a side they are, so to beat them made it that bit more special.
I also think that we learnt from our final defeat two years earlier. 
On that occasion, we didn’t turn up, but I suppose we were that bit more experienced last year and we knew what the occasion held.
We had belief in ourselves; in fairness, for the two or three years before it we also believed that we were good enough to win it, and Mickey Cassidy helped give us that belief. Also, the younger lads were now starting to show great leadership.
Of the game itself, we conceded an early goal in the game, but we didn’t let that distract us or make us lose focus, and we just stuck to the game plan and never veered from it, even when we had setbacks.
We put the goal behind us very quickly and we got a penalty after it, which Mark McCauley scored, and we never really looked back after that.
We had boys that stood up all over the pitch, from Snow and the McCuskers, to the younger lads like Sean Cassidy and Jacob Britton, until he got injured.
You get days in football when things fall into place and go your way, and that final was one of them. 
We had watched all these other teams and players winning championships over the years, and some of them winning a number of them, so for us to go on and win one just meant so much to everybody at the club.
It was nice on a personal level to have played my part in winning it.