Fermanagh Manager Kieran Donnelly saw his side’s Dr McKenna Cup campaign end with defeat to Derry on Sunday – following on from last Wednesday night’s loss to Tyrone. However, he believes there are plenty of positives to take forward out of the competition heading into their Division Three campaign.

“There has been massive learnings in both these games and we can only improve from playing this quality of opposition.

“We feel that there are loads of positives. Loads of boys have made their debuts, which was a massive thing, and we have played teams that just give you no time on the ball and bring a high level of tackling, and that’s worth ten training sessions. These have been two real good work-outs for us,” he said.

On Sunday, Donnelly was pleased with his side’s first half performance in particular, although he felt that they should have been further ahead than one point at the break.

However, Derry then pushed on in the second half, and when their chances came they were able to make the most of them.

“I said to the boys at half time that I felt we were the better team, we were controlling the ball well and we had two or three real good scoring opportunities that we didn’t take. That was the most frustrating thing, because we were limiting Derry, who came with a real strong team.

“We felt it was the test that we needed at this stage of the season but I just thought at half time that we should have been four or five up, and even at the start of the second half we had one or two chances to get a bit of a lead and we didn’t take it, and a team of Derry’s quality is always going to come back at you and have their chances, and that’s what happened. They took them and they were just that wee bit slicker at times with that last pass or shot,” he said.

That Fermanagh were creating chances was important for Donnelly but it was that old achilles’ heel of not taking them that left him frustrated, and he says that it is something that they will be working hard on to improve over the next couple of weeks.

“That was our message even after the Tyrone game, that we are looking organised and we’re getting into that last third and getting that space to get the shot away and we are just not being clinical, but I think these are things that we can control, going forward.

“We have the platform there to improve, it is just a matter of us realising that and it is a key area that we have to work on; just that bit of skill execution at the end, but I think that will come,” he said.

At the other end of the pitch, Fermanagh kept two clean sheets in the games and that delighted Donnelly.

“I said to the boys that we haven’t conceded a goal against two of the top teams in Ireland, and we haven’t looked like conceding a goal, so we have to take massive positives from that and look to build on it,” said the Erne boss.

Donnelly also praised the Ederney club for the efforts they made in hosting the game.


“When you drove into Ederney, you saw the amount of volunteers and the effort they put in to get the place ready, and you have that bit of responsibility to back that up at least with what you can control, and that’s your intensity and work rate and I think all the boys did that.”

The full focus for Fermanagh now switches to the league and what has the look of a very tough Division Three.

“It is an extremely tough Division Three. There are teams like Cavan and Down there who probably feel they should be further up the field; you have Westmeath, who won the Tailteann Cup.

“There are a lot of teams of a high calibre, but that’s where we want to be and we feel we can match any of them on our day.

“It will be tough but one we think we will be ready for,” he concluded.