'We are competing,' says Fermanagh manager Douglas

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Fermanagh Premiers’ manager Keith Douglas believes there is little to choose between the rival county sides, despite Fermanagh losing to both Tyrone and Armagh in the latest Super Cup warm-up tournament.

The U16 squad conceded four second-half goals against Tyrone and a further four against Armagh, but Douglas insists Fermanagh matched both teams for significant periods in the games.

“We are competing with these teams,” he stated.

“We defeated Tyrone recently and deserved the win that day. At half-time this week, it was 0-0 before they pulled away in the second half, and then we were disappointed against Armagh. Frustration is probably the word for both matches.

"We were in both games at half-time. Tyrone were perhaps the stronger team in the first half and had us under pressure, but we held firm and were competitive.

"The Armagh game was similar. We were level at 1-1 at half-time after leading 1-0. We had opportunities to go 2-0 up but conceded a sloppy goal. There's not much difference between the county teams we've faced so far, except for County Down, and we still have five weeks.”

Fermanagh had triumphed 3-2 over Tyrone earlier in the month, but their recent encounter saw Tyrone dominate after an initial goalless first half. Despite a late solo goal from Ethan Kavanagh for Fermanagh, Tyrone secured a convincing victory.

Douglas noted similarities between this defeat and their previous loss to County Down, where late goals skewed the scoreline.

“In the second half, once we conceded, it was reminiscent of the Down game a few weeks ago,” he admitted.

“Once we fell behind by one or two goals, heads dropped and we struggled to recover. The scoreline wasn't flattering, but our vulnerability after conceding has been a concern.

"We're a work in progress at the moment, and we are where we are. Communication among the lads is crucial. They can be quite quiet at times, and we want them to show more leadership.”

The second game of the competition started positively for Fermanagh as they took an early lead against Armagh. However, an injury to goalkeeper Tadhg Kernaghan forced him off after Armagh's equaliser, leaving striker Callum St. Ledger to take over in goal due to the absence of a substitute goalkeeper.

Armagh capitalised in the second half, scoring three more goals before a late strike from Aaron Ellis brought the score to 4-2.

“We were disappointed to lose to Armagh,” Douglas admitted. “An own goal put us ahead in the first half, and that's where we want the boys to be playing.

"We want them to be putting the ball into dangerous areas, getting it down the wing, letting the winger do their thing and cross it in. Anything can happen from there. Losing Tadhg for the second half without a substitute goalkeeper made it an uphill battle.”

Fermanagh will have an opportunity for redemption this Saturday as they face Armagh in a rematch during the Gary Bownes Memorial Cup at the Castle Park Centre, Lisnaskea. They will also play against Lisnaskea Rovers U17 as part of their preparations for the Super Cup commencing on July 22.