Enniskillen have targeted a top four league finish this season as they look to improve on last year.
The last campaign saw them finish fifth in their first season back in Kukri Qualifying One and lose out in the final of the Towns Cup, and coach Willie Gibson is looking to build on that promising campaign.
“I suppose top four again is really where we want to be,” said Gibson.
“The All Ireland Cup is there as well and it would be good to get a run in it, just to get the boys on the road and get together. We are always chasing the Towns Cup as well.
“Last season we missed out on a top four place which was one of the goals we had set ourselves. We really only had ourselves to blame for that. We slumped for six games on the trot.
“Then we left another Towns Cup in Ravenhill. It was a good cup run in a way but we missed a pile of stuff we were aiming for and you can’t keep doing that. You either win it or you don’t and it has been hard to take, so hopefully we can change that.”
There are several changes to the squad this season. Robert Baloucoune, Conor Keys, Gareth Beatty and Dale Buchanan have all moved on but Grayson, a New Zealand based second row, has been acquired and Tyler Millar also comes into the squad.
Although the team may be lighter in numbers, Gibson is confident they have enough quality to ensure a good season.
“It’s light enough on the people coming in and heavy enough on the amount going out but some of the lads have really come on,” he said.
“Matthew Dane has come into the side this year and that has been an asset. Adam Lendrum has matured quite well this pre-season and he has only missed two kicks out of about thirteen in pre-season so it shows how he has changed. Two years ago he might have got two out of thirteen so it has showed how he has matured and he is controlling it well. The boys know what I expect now and if they can match what I expect then I can’t see too many problems but you never really know with injuries or whatever else what way it will go.”
The team have worked hard over the past weeks to get ready for the upcoming league matches and although Willie admits there is still more to work on, he has been buoyed by some of the early results.
“I don’t think I have ever been happy with a pre-season my whole life. There is always something extra that you want to do and something else you want to work on and you never go into a season thinking it is perfect, but we are reasonably happy,” he admitted. “I thought we would get it tough pre-season and would really struggle but we put forty points past both recent opponents so I’m not so sure. That Qualifying One is a really tough league and no game is going to be a walk in the park and it’s hard for us to gauge. It wasn’t easy last year and I can’t see this year being much different.”
The league season starts with a home game against Portadown on Saturday, and although they had a one hundred percent record against them last season, Willie is expecting a tough test. “We played them twice last year and won twice but they are never an easy side,” he said. “We probably surprised ourselves in the first game against them last season. They finished fourth, one place above us, so they are about the same standard as us and I can’t image they have slipped too much. I expect the same sort of battle and a difficult game. I’m looking forward to a good hard game for the boys, and win or lose at least we will know where we are at.”