Play to your strengths. I’ve heard that so many times from players and footballers down through the years when they are facing a tough game against a superior side. Last weekend Fermanagh took on Monaghan in the Ulster semi-final. Monaghan are a Division 1 side and defeated Tyrone in their first game. Fermanagh were promoted to Division 3 this year and sprung a somewhat surprise win over Armagh in their opening game. Fermanagh were underdogs and not expected to win the game but the Ernesiders didn’t read the script as they booked their place in the Ulster Final.
It was a war of attrition and certainly not easy on the eye. Teams that Rory Gallagher is in charge of aren’t noted for their beautiful football but playing football that entertains the crowd doesn’t always win games.
If you can’t match the opposition in terms of quality you have to find a way to get the job done. Sometimes your ‘A’ game isn’t good enough and you need a ‘B’ game and that’s what Fermanagh had last weekend. People will say Monaghan didn’t help themselves but credit must be given to Fermanagh who didn’t allow them to.
Gallagher had a plan and his team executed it perfectly. It wasn’t pretty but say that to anyone from Fermanagh. They don’t care how it was done, they are in an Ulster Final for the first time since 2008. Gallagher’s former side Donegal or Down meet this weekend to see who will play Fermanagh in the Ulster decider. The Ernesiders are the only Ulster county to never win the Anglo-Celt Cup. Can 2018 be their year?
There is no doubt that Fermanagh will provide formidable opponents for either Donegal or Down. People will look at their defensive game but they have forwards who can get scores and their winning goal was typical of Fermanagh; a high ball into the square and Eoin Donnelly flicked it to the net.
Playing ugly can result in a win and that’s what happened Fermanagh last Sunday. And no matter what a win is a win.
Fermanagh’s win over Monaghan was another fine result for the underdogs in the football championship this year. Add that to Carlow’s win over Kildare and Longford’s win over Meath in the Leinster Championship. This weekend those counties will be hoping to produce another shock but it’s going to be tough.
Carlow take on Laois in the first Leinster semi-final hoping to reach the decider for the first time since 1944; that was the year of their last Leinster success. For Longford they face a daunting task when they take on the reigning Leinster and All-Ireland champions Dublin. This is Longford’s first semi-final in 30 years. It’s 50 years, this year, since they won their one and only Leinster title.
Can both Carlow and Longford record famous wins on Sunday? Well for supporters there is a belief that somewhere glory awaits, the outsider wins and the underdog refuses to lie down. Maybe, just maybe that might happen on Sunday.