Ryan Jones confident Fermanagh will pass Westmeath challenge

Fermanagh midfielder Ryan Jones admits it will be a “letdown” if the team fails to back up their Roscommon victory with another win against Westmeath on Saturday.

Although he describes the county’s memorable comeback against the Rossies as his best day ever in a Fermanagh jersey, Jones insists the season will still be a disappointment if they don’t back it up with another win to reach the All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals.

“When we drew Roscommon, a lot of people thought it would be the end of the road, but we don’t want to leave it at that,” he said.

“Hopefully we can take it a step further but personally speaking, I think that after beating Roscommon it’ll be a bit of a letdown if we don’t beat Westmeath. We have to push on, and that’s not being overconfident.

“Westmeath will feel the exact same way, feeling they can definitely get a result against Fermanagh.

“We will be going to Breffni (Park) feeling we can win the game. That’s the way we have approached every game this year and I suppose if you don’t have that approach, is there any real point in turning up?

“You’ve got to have confidence in yourself that you can go on and win this match.” Fermanagh’s newfound inner belief is unquestionably stemming from their manager, Pete McGrath, who hasn’t been afraid to talk up his team’s ability this year.

After the Ulster semi-final defeat by Monaghan, McGrath emerged from a disconsolate dressing room to tell the media that his team would still be playing football in August.

Few believed him at the time, but they are now only 70 minutes away from realising that lofty ambition.

“That is a serious difference with Pete compared to other managers I’ve played under,” says Jones.

“It’s not that he shows no respect for the opposition, he believes and sees what we’re capable of. Fermanagh have footballers as good as other counties in Ulster but maybe they don’t have that belief. The belief has to come from the top so if your manager doesn’t believe in you, what hope does the team have?

“Losing matches and playing two championship matches every year and boys begin to think ‘maybe we’re not good enough’ but he has won All-Irelands and has seen what it takes to win championship games.

“We knew there was no reason after the Monaghan game that we couldn’t be playing football in August.

“But if we don’t back it up with another good performance and result against Westmeath, I think it (win over Roscommon) could be forgotten very quickly.” The Derrygonnelly midfielder is in his sixth year in the Fermanagh squad and played in Mullingar two years ago when Peter Canavan led the team to an away qualifier win over Westmeath.

Jones added: “They have some talented players in their squad and we know what they can do. They were playing in Division Two this year, whereas we were only in Division Three, so wee things like that will go in their favour.

“But if we just focus on ourselves we won’t be far away.”

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