Fermanagh Manager Joe Baldwin has heaped praise on Barney McAuley after the experienced player decided to call it a day following Saturday’s defeat to Armagh in Crossmaglen.

Loughgiel man McAuley joined up with the Fermanagh squad three seasons ago and was involved that first year in the backroom team before playing a key role over the last two years on the pitch where he was an influential part of the Erne county’s success as they landed the Lory Meagher Cup last year.

“I can’t speak highly enough of Barney – he has been a massive influence on the squad and he’s been a phenomenal player and a phenomenal athlete. Fermanagh GAA hurling will always be indebted to him for what he brought to the table,” said Baldwin.

“He has a young family and with the travelling involved, he felt it was just the right time.

“I would like to congratulate him for all that he has achieved and what he has brought to us this last two and a half years, and he would tell you himself that he fairly enjoyed it.”

On Saturday’s loss to Armagh, Baldwin felt that his side made too many unforced errors after getting off to a good start to the game.

“We started the game very well and after 20 minutes we led 1-04 to 0-04 but I have never seen a game of hurling that was littered with so many individual errors. There were boys who were doing things on the day that were so uncharacteristic.

“To come out of the game having scored 2-19 is great, but we conceded 3-18, and it was those individual errors that cost us.”

Fermanagh are safe in the Nickey Rackard Cup for next year despite the defeat but Baldwin feels there is regret in not having won more games.

“It was another performance where we as a management team are incredibly proud of the boys, but the first win came and the second and third should have been on the board.”

This week sees the final game in the competition for Fermanagh as they host a Roscommon side who are final-bound. Baldwin says that it is an opportunity to give some players game time.

“We have Roscommon this week and it is an opportunity to give some of the boys who have not had as much game time the chance to play,” he added.