Fermanagh and Donegal lock horns in today’s Ulster Quarter Final, with the chance to book their place in the final slot of the semi finals where they will meet the might of Tyrone. Martin McHugh believes that “if Donegal want to do well down the road, we have to be winning these types of games”.
Last year’s Ulster Final pairing have already commenced battle once this season, in their division two league campaign, when the Erne siders sprung a surprise by coming out on top, having trailed at the interval. McHugh feels “Fermanagh have come on a lot from last year, they felt they didn’t do themselves justice in the Ulster Final and I think they will be better”, fireworks expected in Brewster Park.
Fermanagh’s home advantage could have a huge bearing on the outcome of the contest “Fermanagh have a very good record in Enniskillen, so it’s going to be a battle, it’s going to be tough, it’s going to be low scoring, it’s going to be tough to referee. Last year’s Ulster Final, the occasion got to Fermanagh, they’ll be better than they were then, they beat Armagh in Brewster Park last year in a great performance.”
Donegal will look to their experienced heads to help them through with the likes of Patrick McBrearty and Michael Murphy leading the charge, the pair in for some close attention today according to the former Donegal forward “Ryan McHugh was good last year and they’ll definitely target him tomorrow and Murphy will be targeted and McBrearty so it will be up to other players. I think we’ve got the quality in Ciaran Thompson, Michael Langan, Niall O’Donnell, Jason McGee, Hugh McFadden and Jamie Brennan; they can kick on and kick scores that will make a difference. It’s hard to mark them all and a lot of them are big men as well”.
With his son Ryan due to play after suffering concussion during last year’s playing season, Martin isn’t too concerned as physicality is a big part of the modern game, “Football’s just different now, if you look at the size of players now, they’re physically very well built, they’re more like rugby league players and that’s what you have to be when you’re at the level they’re at so there is more big hits and he is smaller so it’s understandable the bigger man tackling him will be round the end”.
“The GAA are working very hard to stamp out the high tackles and they’re taking big action on it and I think that’s a good thing, it’s important that we allow the small player to be able to show the skills. He’s back playing good football and it’ll be no excuse. He will be targeted and he will get hit but he’s getting well used to that”.
Donegal are expected to come out on top due to their superior forward line, although they won’t have it all their own way and McHugh isn’t expecting his side to have a massive victory, “I think it will be tough for long enough but I think Donegal just have enough quality up front to win it by 4 or 5 points”.