Eoin Donnelly: Fermanagh now have taste for the big stage

Fermanagh captain Eoin Donnelly vows the county can repeat last year’s championship heroics.

The Ernesiders reached a first All-Ireland SFC quarter-final since 2004, playing Dublin in a packed Croke Park. Now they’ve got a taste for the big stage, they want more.

“People’s expectations are built on last year,” Donnelly admits.

“A lot of that is down to the run we had through the back door but we don’t get anything for the results we had last year, that is all in the past.

“It was great to see that the people of Fermanagh got behind us on that journey, and I hope that we have maintained those supporters and not lost too many since.

“The fact we played and won a couple of high-profile games against good teams at higher level, it does bring belief. It certainly stood to us coming into this year because we wanted to recreate that hunger and culture again.”

The fact they comfortably stayed in Division Two in the spring was a sign that they aren’t going to slip away after one good summer. Substantial progress can only be made if they build on last year, with Donnelly explaining: “That is why we strived so hard in the league. You don’t want to be up and down, up and down. You want consistency and the more consistency you can get in league form, and have players coming into play at a higher level, that has to be the basis for Fermanagh to make inroads. That is what Fermanagh people want to see and that is why people play the game, to try to aspire to be part of that.”

The first step on the road is Sunday’s preliminary round clash with Antrim - their fourth championship meeting since 2014. Handling the favourites tag has never come easy to Fermanagh but coping with pressure is all part of the learning curve if they want to raise their game to the next level.

“What the expectation levels are outside the group is not something that we put too much emphasis on. We know what the expectation levels are within the group and management and that is all that we are interested in,” added Donnelly.


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