Fermanagh captain Eoin Donnelly relishing Monaghan clash

Donnelly scored the winning goal to dump opponents out of Ulster semis in 2018

Eoin Donnelly scores his famous goal to knock Monaghan out of the 2018 Ulster SFC. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Eoin Donnelly scores his famous goal to knock Monaghan out of the 2018 Ulster SFC. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

For Fermanagh captain Eoin Donnelly, the prospect of playing Monaghan on Saturday is cheered by experience. Three years ago he got the late goal which sent their more favoured opponents crashing out of the Ulster semi-final in Omagh.

A year later when Monaghan avenged that defeat in the qualifiers Donnelly was unable to play because of a family bereavement.

At a pre-championship media briefing, he reflected on the difference between this and last year when they went into the championship after a league campaign disrupted by Covid and which resulted in relegation, although the level of opposition is higher.

“On paper last year you were probably thinking Down and ourselves were around the same level, whereas this year Monaghan are in Division One and we’re in Division Three. That makes it slightly different but in terms of our preparation, we’ve had plenty of opportunity to get some really good training done, competitive games, in-house games.”

It’s been a demanding year for Donnelly, who’s a respiratory physiotherapist in the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald, even though he reports that the number of Covid cases is decreasing. He hasn’t though ever been tempted to take a sabbatical form his county career.

“I probably always felt I was lucky to get playing for Fermanagh. I was 22-23 when I came onto the squad, maybe thinking it was a wee bit late, so any year I was here I was going to try and make the most of it.

“As time goes on you’re maybe thinking you don’t have too many years left, so the opportunity to take time out never really came into my thinking. There’s not much point taking time out now.”

About Saturday he’s revisiting one of his great career memories.

“Fermanagh-wise, it’s probably up there. Just representing Fermanagh in the first instance is one of the pinnacles, any Croke Park experiences, but the euphoria after that one, I don’t think it’s been matched. It was immense, and then leading Fermanagh out in an Ulster final, that was probably the pinnacle.”

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