Fermanagh forward Ryan Lyons acknowledged that it was the result that mattered as Fermanagh maintained their hopes of topping Tailteann Cup Group Four with what in the end was a comprehensive victory over Leitrim in Carrick-on-Shannon on Saturday evening.

The Ernemen had let a six point lead slip as they drew with Wexford six days earlier in Brewster Park and although they saw Leitrim claw their way back with an early second half surge on Saturday, Fermanagh regained control to push on for the win.

“We were very disappointed with our performance in the second half against Wexford but afterwards we discussed that nothing had really changed for us anyway in regards of what we needed in the next two games, we still needed two wins to top the group.

“We got the heads down last week and I thought that it was a good professional performance against Leitrim albeit there was that disappointing five minute spell at the start of the second half when we conceded two goals.

“But we wrestled back control pretty fast and maybe the learnings from the week before helped us in the second half,” he said.

When Leitrim did bag those two goals Lyons admits that thoughts of what happened the previous week came back but he felt that they handled the set back much better this time around.

“It’s in the back of your mind, like ‘here we go again’ kind of thing but I thought we handled it much, much better this week.

“We got a score after their first goal and then after their second goal - which they got in far too easily for - we got six or seven of the next eight points. We didn’t force anything and kept the ball pretty well and I think our experience of playing at a higher level stood to us,” he said.

In their own hands

And with one group game to go, Fermanagh are where they would want to be, with top spot - and an automatic quarter final place - in their own hands.

“As I said, nothing really changed for us even though it was disappointing to only come away with a draw from Wexford. We knew that we still had to win our next two games regardless to top the group and get straight through to the quarter finals and that’s exactly what we have to do on Sunday week against Antrim.”

The fact that there is a place in the quarter finals and a week’s more rest for the team that finishes top of the group makes it a big prize for the winner on Sunday week, states Lyons.

“It is massive to top the group and you will find that every team will have the same idea. That week’s break is huge when you are playing three championship games in as many weeks because it takes its toll on squads and on certain players.

“Just having that extra week off were you can have that bit more focus on the quarter final and not a swift turn around and you can let that recovery process set in naturally would be a huge benefit for whoever does top the groups.”

And he is expecting a tightly contested affair against Antrim, much like the league game they played earlier in the year in the season.

On that day, Fermanagh rallied late on to snatch victory at the death and Lyons admits that they know enough about Antrim to be aware of the quality they possess.

“To be fair, they probably should have beaten us up there, we were seven or eight points down with ten minutes to go but we fought back and managed to get a win at the end of the game.

“Obviously, them being seven or eight points up shows the quality that they have and it is something that we have known about over the last two years as we have played them a good bit.

“It should be in interesting enough tussle,” he commented.

The new Tailteann Cup format would appear to have gained buy in from counties and Lyons stresses that it is a competition that Fermanagh want to win.

“We are basically a Division Two team now and I don’t see why we can’t go and win it.

“That has to be an aspiration and if it’s not an aspiration to be lifting silverware then you should be asking questions of yourself.

“I think there are four, five or six teams who will back themselves to go the whole way but we fancy ourselves against any of those teams,” he concluded.