There was a period last week where I really thought we had lost the run of ourselves. As the Northern Ireland Executive gave the green light, pending a review, for outdoor sports to return to training in pods of 15 from April 12 there were some within the association suggesting that we should ignore this and wait until all 32 counties could return as one.

On the face of it, this sentiment has an admirable ring of altruism to it, but the reality is, that had it been implemented it would have been a colossal case of shooting oneself in one’s foot.

Those who suggested the move talked about a 32 county association. Which is grand. However, they failed to take into consideration what should always be the prime focus and purpose of the GAA, namely the ‘promotion of Gaelic games and pastimes’.

Can you imagine trying to explain to an 8-year-old that they can go and train with the local soccer and rugby club but that the padlocks have to stay on the GAA field? Madness.

The whole notion that the six counties should have waited was a classic case of historical thinking getting in the way of the right thing to do.

Anyway, that is enough about all that; sense took over and we will be back kicking ball in a few weeks. Nevertheless, if you would humour me, I would like to pick up the baton of ‘historical thinking’ and apply it to our own fair county.

First, let us be honest, as a county, we still have a massive inferiority complex. There is no getting away from that. A failure to admit this fact gets us off on the wrong foot immediately. It is hard-headed, naive and ultimately will only contribute to holding us all back from achieving what we want to.

Sure, there are individuals who do not have an inferiority complex, and there have been teams who have managed to shed it also. However, I’m talking about the county psyche. For us inferiority is like a weed that refuses to die. For periods, it can seem like all is flourishing in the garden but in time it returns to take a grip and stilt any progress that may have been made.

Think about it this way, and be truthful: what do most Fermanagh people think has been the biggest constraint to our success?

The answer you will get is our size and population. ‘We don’t have the numbers,’ is the cry you hear.

But, you see, that argument is simply a more palatable way of saying ‘we are not good enough’. Blaming our size is a way to make us feel better and give us a convenient cloak to cover our feeling of inadequacy. It is bluff. It is pathetic too.

What we really need to do as a county is stop believing we are beaten before we start and instead do something long term and strategic to change things.

We are doing more coaching at underage level, which is good to see. That coaching needs to be skilled based, but as important, it needs measured.

At 14, we need to know how each player kicks off their weak foot. In addition, if by 17 they have not improved then we blame ourselves, not the 17-year-old child.

How can we ever hope to improve if we do not really know the areas where each player needs to improve? Proper measuring will help chart development and ensure we are effective in how we coach.

Secondly, we need to think about what our culture and identity is. Tyrone, Donegal, Mayo, Kerry and so on and so on have a culture and identity. What is ours? I don’t know. Do you? We need to identify what we want it to be and start to work towards ingraining it.

The biggest mistake of course is to naval gaze and take one county’s blueprint and copy for our own.

I prefer the more a la carte style of taking bits and pieces of lots of successful teams and mixing it with something that is also inherently ours. That little something I will get to.

We are masters at talking ourselves down in comparison to our neighbours in particular. My big pet hate is this notion that our club game is rubbish. How often have you heard it? ‘Tyrone’s club game is far better’. Really? Is it? There is no evidence to suggest that. Derrygonnelly beat Trillick two years ago in the Ulster Club and only one club from Tyrone has managed to win that competition, Errigal Ciaran who have done it twice.

In their second final win, they beat a Fermanagh club by two points. It still hurts.

But, you would think if Tyrone club football was so superior it would be teeming with senior provincial titles. Not so. Now, is it competitive? Absolutely. And has it more competitive teams? Perhaps. But better? No. Yet we genuflect at the altar of Tyrone football as if it is something to strive for. It is not.

We should strive for the best version of Fermanagh club football.

And so, on to the third thing we have to do, which sort of brings us full circle back to the ‘we don’t have the numbers’ loin cloth of an excuse. It is the three most important words in sports psychology and success – ‘control the controllables’.

The extension of this, for Fermanagh, is for us to embrace what makes us unique, which is of course our size. Instead of adapting it as a fig leaf I wonder what would happen if we used it as a shield and sword.

The other day in the Irish News former Armagh player Finnian Moriarty, who is a club manager in Armagh, said that having county players train and play with clubs more often because of the new split season would raise the whole standard of football across the county.

Finnian is spot on and it gives Fermanagh a tremendous opportunity.

Our small playing population means that a greater percentage of club players in our county will have inter county experience. Imagine the raising of standards we can achieve.

But here is the rub. We have to make sure that the inter county experience for the player was optimum if we want their influence to exponentially rise all boats.

And, when I say inter county experience I mean from development squad right through. We have to get it right from day one.

So there it is. We have two choices. We can keep crying about our size or we can use it to our advantage.

Joined up thinking. A proper plan. A strategy. An identity. Everything measured. Everything analysed. Approaches changed if necessary. A culture. A changed culture. A new culture. A Fermanagh culture.

Minors are a super bunch of lads

I am fortunate to have been involved with the Fermanagh minor team since around November time. They are a super bunch of players and happily are one of those teams who do not suffer the inferiority complex referenced in the main article.

But, that is by the by. What is more important is the work they are doing to help raise awareness for mental health and well being. They have been fantastic in their #ItsNotMinorItMatters campaign. If you can help us spread the word, it would be appreciated. If you can spare a few pound then that would be great too. All funds raised are being split between Samaritans Ireland and New Horizons Action Mental Health Fermanagh. Check out Fermanagh GAA website of Fermanagh Facebook page for more details.