Fermanagh manager Rory Gallagher has confirmed that St. Pat’s forward Eamon Maguire has returned to the squad ahead of the new season getting underway although he admits that there is a doubt about the availability of Derrygonnelly defender Mickey Jones.
The Fermanagh squad have been working hard since starting out on their pre-season campaign and Maguire has joined up with them in recent weeks after a change to his work circumstances.
“Eamon has just come in and he hasn’t really joined in with the full sessions yet, he is just building up his fitness. He is back based at home whereas in previous years he has been working away. He wants to see how the body feels but I always remember that the fitness came pretty naturally to him and I don’t see that being a big issue and we’ll see how he adjusts when he joins in with full training. It’s a case though of so far so good,” said Gallagher.
However, Jones has not yet rejoined the squad with Gallagher saying he will revisit the situation in the New Year.
Mickey Jones hasn’t rejoined the thing yet but we’ll chat to him in the New Year and see one way or another how he is fixed,” he added.
One player who has returned for another campaign is Ryan McCluskey. The Enniskillen Gaels man is the longest serving current county player in the country and Gallagher states that he still has the hunger and the desire to play at this level.
“Since we got going he has been at it and he has done the bulk of the work. He’ll probably take a couple of weeks off now as he’s getting married but he keeps himself in very good shape and it’s just a case of both us and him having to be smart about managing his body. He still seems to have the hunger and the drive and that is very important to us.”
Fermanagh will begin their McKenna Cup campaign with a home game against Monaghan tonight (Wednesday) and Gallagher is looking for his side to show improvement in each game they play in the competition.
And for the former Donegal boss it is all about getting the best preparation done for when the real action starts with a home game to Wexford in the opening Division Three game on January 28 at Brewster Park.
“We’ll be going into the McKenna Cup with an open mind,” said Gallagher. “We’ve a volume of training done so now we’re looking forward to seeing how the boys settle in. We’ll be looking to improve performance on performance but we will just be taking it one game at a time at the minute.
“For me, the first game in the league is the start of the season competitively but we have three games in a week coming up and if we can get through to a fourth game that would be great.”
In terms of what he wants to see from his players in the McKenna Cup, Gallagher added: “We will be looking to bring the work we have done on the training field into the games but it is early days in what we are starting out to do so you are not looking for perfection but you want to see a good attitude and a hunger to do it. We want them to go out and express themselves and put their best foot forward.”
And he stresses that it is the players who are doing the business in training who are the one that will be playing in the McKenna Cup.
“Training is as important to me as McKenna Cup games and the players that are playing best at training will have the best chance of playing in the McKenna Cup,” he said.