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Sunday 11 December 2016

Bullish Fermanagh boss Pete McGrath won't be intimidated by the Dubs: 'It is no way men against boys'

pete mcgrath
pete mcgrath

PETE McGRATH is relishing the ultimate reality test for Fermanagh - Dublin in Croke Park - as his Ulster underdogs chase one of the greatest shocks in GAA history.

The league champions and All-Ireland favourites are 1/200 with Paddy Power to end Fermanagh's fairytale run through the back door, but McGrath is not perturbed by bookmaker odds or outside perception.

His message at the Fermanagh press night in Enniskillen yesterday evening was wonderfully succinct: "We are not going to be intimidated," he declared.

The Ernesiders sealed their progress to the All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals by beating Westmeath in Cavan last Saturday.

FLASH

Asked where his team had been when they discovered that Dublin - not Kerry - would be their last-eight opponents, McGrath quipped in a flash: "Where were you when John F Kennedy was shot?"

The veteran boss went on: "We were listening to the (Kildare/Cork) match on the bus. It was obvious from early in the second half that Kildare were going to win the game but it did not make one button of a difference.

"Dublin and Kerry are the two best teams in the country over these past number of years, but if you let any team intimidate you by their reputation or by their quality, then you're on a beaten docket right away. And we are not going to be intimidated."

DEFENSIVE

McGrath won't jettison his well-established defensive system as he seeks to put the shackles on a Dublin attack that, for all its potency, has occasionally struggled to break down blanket rearguards. "We're trying to develop a way that minimises scores against us and maximises scores for us - and I think we've been fairly successful on integrating those two things," he said.

"We can't and don't propose to do anything different going in to Sunday, because I think that would be crazy."

On the subject of Dublin's alleged invincibility, he ventured: "Any team is beatable - ask Jim Gavin that.

"No team is infallible and on any given day, if a team is committed and well prepared and has got talented players, there is no reason why they can't go out and take out another team that is committed and talented."

While accepting that Dublin are a gifted team, much more experienced than his own and further down the development line, McGrath promised: "We will go and challenge these guys.

"If we went down there and lay down in front of them, I think Dublin would be disappointed. So we're not going to disappoint them.

"Somebody asked me is it a match we can win? I would say this is definitely a match Dublin can win but it is also a match that we can win. That's the way I see it," he added.

"They may be a bit stronger than us physically, but in my view it is no way men against boys. No way. It might be men against young men, but not men against boys."

Meanwhile, McGrath is "very optimistic" that key midfielder Eoin Donnelly will win his fitness race after coming off with hamstring trouble during the third quarter against Westmeath.

Donnelly was due to sit out training last night, but McGrath added: "The tests that have been done since Saturday, and how he feels personally, are all very encouraging."

 

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