Fermanagh minor manager Niall McElroy says he is proud of his players despite their defeat to Donegal on Saturday.

Their Ulster Championship campaign began with a defeat to Barry Ward’s side in Donagh but there will be no time to linger on any post-match thoughts with a trip to Clones to face Monaghan next up on the schedule this weekend.

It was a similar story for Fermanagh as a well-contested first half was followed by Donegal running away with things in the end.

“I suppose the final scoreline is hard to take, we had some good patches of football, especially in the first half,” McElroy said.

“I felt the first half was pretty even in terms of play but they got the two goals which were sucker punches, especially with the one right before half-time.

"In the second half, Donegal really dominated and showed how good a team they really are. I suppose we were playing with the wind in the first half and probably didn’t take the advantage on the scoreline at half-time, that we would have liked.

"It was tight enough at half-time given how the game was going but the dropped shot led to the second goal and there being six in it at half-time which was going to be a struggle when they then got the breeze.”

McElroy praised his players and recognised it was another second-half performance that saw Saturday’s tie slip away from their grasp against a strong Donegal side who defeated them in Ballybofey at the start of last month.

“I’m proud of the work rate of the players. We ask them to work really hard every day putting on the Fermanagh jersey and they did that again against Donegal, but we looked at the stats,” McElroy added.

“We won more breaking ball than Donegal, made more tackles and made more blocks which is a positive, so, we can’t question the effort of the lads, it’s just second halves in particular that have let us down.”

Monaghan will present another challenging task this weekend having lost out in last year's All-Ireland final to Derry in July.

“I suppose with championship games week on week, we can't dwell too much on Donegal and look we go to Clones now and Monaghan have been really strong at minor level. They got to an All-Ireland final last year and Dermot Malone will have them well-prepared again this year.

"It’s going to be another difficult task but it’s another derby game as well so we’ll look forward to it,” concluded McElroy.