Fermanagh’s Division 3A status is on the line this weekend and manager Joe Baldwin wants his players to ‘stand up and fight’ to stay in the division when they take on Armagh in Middletown on Saturday afternoon (2pm).

In a very competitive division only one point separates second from bottom and it shows just how crucial late scores have been against Fermanagh with Monaghan edging out the Ernemen with a score at the death in the opening league game while Louth did likewise last weekend.

A different outcome to even one of those games would have had Fermanagh well positioned for a league final spot but it is the other end of the table instead that they are concerned with although Baldwin knows that his side still have their survival in their own hands - a win against the Orchard will see them secure their place in Division 3A for next year.

‘A real dogfight’

“We don’t want to be a yo-yo team, we don’t want to go up and then go back down again. It is only us that can keep Fermanagh up and we are capable of doing it but the reality is we are now in a real dogfight this weekend against Armagh,” said Baldwin.

“We now come down to 70 minutes of hurling and we are not relying on anyone else, if we win we stay in the division.

“That’s the only focus this week, to go there and win that game and we need to go there and stand up and fight.

“The bottom line is that it is in our own hands. It comes down to a complete shoot out, it is an Ulster derby and an opportunity to retain our Division 3A status. I said at the start of the league campaign that I wanted us to be competitive and I wanted a couple of wins and I felt a couple of wins would keep us in the division. We have been competitive in every game so I can’t ask for much more in that regards and hopefully we can get the result on Saturday,” he said.

There was no doubt that there was frustration for both management and players after the Louth game and Baldwin acknowledges that failure to make the most of their chances cost them.

“I was disappointed with some of the individual shot selection, we missed 22 scoring chances and as a coach and a management team you can only do so much but when the players go on to the field they have to take responsibility for it.

“In such a competitive division these things are crucial; we lost the Monaghan game by a single score deep in injury time and I felt we did enough to win the game but we lost to another late score. It was a huge disappointment and I know the players are hurting too,” he commented.

And he is very aware that if they are to survive then they have to take their chances this week while discipline will also be key.

“A couple of weeks ago I went to watch Antrim play Armagh and Armagh have an excellent free taker. That night they scored 19 points, 16 of which were frees so discipline this week is huge and I’m looking for a strong referee to let the game flow.

“We also have to be ruthless when we get chances and we are creating enough. A bit like a basketball match, every time we attack we want a return and keep the scoreboard ticking over.”

Fermanagh were without the in-form Luca McCusker last week but Baldwin is hoping that he can play a part this weekend.

“We will need a few injuries to clear up, hopefully we can get Luca out there and then hopefully we can get a bit of luck too which we will need,” he concluded.


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