Fermanagh forward Paul McCusker says he’s got over the spectre of “bloody Division Three football” and is focused on trying to cause an upset in Saturday night’s Ulster championship opener against Monaghan.
An unlucky set of circumstances conspired to relegate the Erne men on the final day of their league campaign, leaving McCusker feeling disillusioned.
“When you lose those big games, or when you get relegated, you are thinking about the time and effort and everything that you put in, asking ‘what am I getting out of this?’
“After that Derry game you are dejected and deflated and thinking negatively about bloody Division Three football next year.”
Yet he says the disappointment has faded as the championship gets closer.
“You still want to get back to the training pitch with the boys... you play a club game and the next thing you are back at training and the whole talk is of Monaghan and you have ‘x’ number of weeks to get things right.”
A common theme of their defeats has been a failure to kill games off — the last league game against Derry being a case in point, when an injury-time goal sank them.
They’ve had a few near misses on big championship days too. Decent performances against Donegal, Monaghan, and Mayo in recent seasons ultimately wasn’t good enough to get the win.
“It does cross your mind every so often where you think ‘Jeez we could’ve won those games, we should’ve won those games’,” says McCusker.
“They are big Championship days and we were nearly there. It’s in your head you want to get over the line in one of those. That’s what we are pushing for.”
McCusker’s brother Declan (hand) is one of a number of injury setbacks, which Pete McGrath’s small squad can ill-afford ahead of Saturday’s preliminary round tie at Clones (7pm).
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