Match preview: Fermanagh need to stop the Dubs from scoring goals

Sean Quigley
Sean Quigley

It is only on the pages of children’s storybooks that fairy tales have happy endings!

Nonetheless Fermanagh has struck a blow for the GAA’s underprivileged by reaching the All-Ireland quarter final.

They have been a model of consistency all summer – even when they lost to eventual Ulster champions, Monaghan it wasn’t until the dismissal of their most experienced defender Ryan McCluskey – who is the team’s sweeper – that Malachy O’Rourke’s side pulled away.

Their wily team boss Pete McGrath deserves a lot of credit for the team’s renaissance. But even allowing for the momentum they have generated with their wins over Antrim, Roscommon and an injury hit Westmeath in the qualifiers they are still not in Dublin’s League.

Former Kerry great Darragh O Sé suggested during the week that complacency is the absence of fear. Realistically Dublin won’t fear Fermanagh but the players will be conscious that despite winning by 13 points against Westmeath they struggled to produce their A game.

There could be a backlash today which spells trouble for Fermanagh who need to stop the Dubs from scoring goals. Fermanagh has a better developed defensive system than any of the teams Dublin has faced so far in the championship.

There will be concerns in the Dublin camp about the form of Paul Flynn and Rory O’Carroll and of course the overriding concern is that they will find themselves in an All-Ireland semi-final without having ever being fully extended.

Fermanagh’ s Sean Quigley was their chief scorer all season until last weekend when he had an off day –he kicked half a dozen wides. Instead Tomás Corrigan took the honours with his 1-7 contribution against Westmeath.

But although Fermanagh’s has proven ball winners in Ryan Jones, Richard O’Callaghan and Eoin Donnelly – if fit to play – in the middle third of the field they may find it difficult to win enough possession to supply Quigley and Corrigan who could become isolated up front.

While Fermanagh’s  exploits in the 2004 All-Ireland series have been rightly recalled this week their first ever quarter final appearance the previous year in which they endured a  19 point tanking from Tyrone have been ignored.

Realistically the best that Fermanagh can hope for is to beat the handicap of fourteen points.

Verdict: Dublin

Dublin v Fermanagh, 4.00pm, Croke Park. Live on RTE 2.