Fermanagh have a chance to take a massive step towards promotion on Saturday if they can overcome Westmeath in Ederney in a huge game at the top end of the table.

Kieran Donnelly’s side currently sit two points ahead of Westmeath and a win for the home side would end Westmeath’s hopes of going up. And the Erne boss says that they will be approaching this game the exact same as every other game they have played in the league in this campaign.

“It is a big game but we have put a massive onus on winning every game in the league this year and trying to get momentum built up, and this game just comes after a series of wins which leaves us pushing for promotion. So from that perspective it is a big game but we’ll treat it no differently to any of the other games we have played, be it the Down game or the Tipperary game,” he said.

Westmeath were the favourites for promotion entering the league after winning the Tailteann Cup last season and Donnelly is aware that they will cause a threat to his side with their pace and power.

‘Different threat’

“They pose a different threat in a lot of different areas so it is a game that we will have to be very focussed in on.

“What we expect from Westmeath is what they have built up over this last year and that was shown in the Tailteann Cup win last year in Croke Park.

“They have size throughout the pitch and they have pace and are very mobile, we are very aware of that. They have got on a run at the minute and had a massive win against Antrim so we are really going to have to be at it,” explained the Erne boss.

Fermanagh have a lot of the same attributes within their team and Donnelly feels it will lead to a fast paced encounter on Saturday. And the key to the contest will be dealing with those threats posed by Westmeath and then Fermanagh taking their chances when they come along.

Key players

“Both teams have pace in areas and have size.

“Westmeath will bring that pace and we will just have to match it. They have a lot of key players in Heslin, Loughlin and O’ Toole that will need to be focused on and that will be a massive area for us to hone in on; getting our match ups right will be key.

“Every game takes a life of its own in periods of it and there will be dominant periods for both teams and it always comes down to those scenarios where you maximise your chances at those key junctures of the game, that’s what it comes down to,” he said.

Fermanagh had to do without the services of Darragh McGurn in the win over Tipperary with the Belnaleck man nursing an on-going problem but Donnelly hopes to have him back for the Westmeath clash while McGurn’s club mate Che Cullen will also be available after returning off the bench in that win over Tipp.

“We hope to have Darragh available. He has been very disciplined in his rehab, it has been a tough injury for him and has flared up on him on occasions but he is making good progress and he is very focussed and very keen to be ready for these last two games.

“At the minute we have a clear bill of health. We have been managing players throughout the league, it has been that frantic a period that every squad has been hit but we hope to go in with all our players available,” he added.

Fermanagh had looked as if they would make a promotion push last year before tailing off towards the end of the league but Donnelly believes that they are in a better position this time around.

“You take learnings from it (last year). We were young - we are still young but we were very young last year - and those players have another year under their belt and probably our game management has improved and that bit of experience those players have gained has helped with that.

“Plus we have grown a real good squad now. The players we have brought in have been a massive addition and they have really added to the quality of our training and that just pushes everybody on,” he said.

Good buzz

And he says that there is a good buzz around the squad as they look to maintain their good run in Ederney which has seen them win three out of three so far with the manager believing that the home crowd has their part to play on Saturday.

“There is a natural buzz when you are winning, you look forward to training and players like winning and there was that feel good factor coming out of Ederney after those games.

“We are very keen to keep that going, the home venue is a big plus for us with that familiarity with surroundings.

“We are glad to have this game at home and with the home crowd behind us it will be a big help in pushing us on,” he said.


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