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'We're in no shape to play Clare' - Fermanagh boss McMenamin calls for League postponement after Covid-19 outbreak


Fermanagh football manager Ryan McMenamin. Photo: Philip Fitzpatrick/Sportsfile

Fermanagh football manager Ryan McMenamin. Photo: Philip Fitzpatrick/Sportsfile

Fermanagh football manager Ryan McMenamin. Photo: Philip Fitzpatrick/Sportsfile

Fermanagh boss Ryan McMenamin has asked the GAA to postpone their Allianz FL Division 2 clash with Clare on Sunday week "to help ease the minds" of his players after a significant number of the Erne squad were struck down with Covid-19.

The former Tyrone star believes that the integrity of the League will be eroded should the competition proceed without Fermanagh and the three-time All-Ireland winner is hoping that swift action is taken by Croke Park.

"I think it needs to be a postponement. If they want to go on ahead more or less in the League without us, that will be the integrity of the League gone," McMenamin told this morning's OTB AM.

"To me, I think the GAA has got to act quickly and postpone it. We can draw a line under it then and tell the boys how we plan going forward."

Training and games at all levels has ceased until further notice in Fermanagh amid the spike in Covid-19 with their League tie against Clare in Cusack Park on October 18 in serious jeopardy, as well as their must-win game against Laois six days later as they hope to avoid relegation.

McMenamin feels that clarity is essential for the well-being of his players while he also insists that they will be "in no shape to play Clare" given their lack of preparation.

"I just want them to make a call on this as soon as possible so we can ease the minds of our players. There's a lot of blame about with this Covid situation and you have to feel sorry for those players who have contracted the virus," he said.

"They didn't contract intentionally. I've already got a few messages on WhatsApp from lads who are worrying that this was all because of them. So, you do have to think of their mental health when all of this stuff is being paraded around the country."

He added: "We're in no shape to play Clare. I've just been told the hotel in Clare cancelled our reservation because of Level 3 restrictions, I thought that was weird. We're in no shape to play... even long-term if you look at the Ulster Championship.

"We do want to play it but you're looking at the level of preparation. If you're only going to have two or three training sessions before the Ulster Championship you kind of have to ask, what sort of games are they going to be? What sort of spectacle?

"We'll try our best, but the spectacle mightn't be great and it mightn't be a great advert for football. I don't want the boys to become a circus and kind of going 'We're just being rolled out here to play football here when we've done no preparation'."

McMenamin is clearly irked by how their Covid outbreak has been dealt with and the former All-Star defender questions whether high-profile counties like Dublin and Tyrone would be treated the same by the GAA's top brass if such scenarios arose in those counties.

"We want to play the championship game, I want to put Fermanagh's best foot forward, I want to showcase Fermanagh football, what it is. We're probably not going to get that opportunity," he said.

"Maybe I'm thinking wrong - if this was maybe Dublin or Tyrone and they were in the same situation, would the Ulster Championship match be moved or would it be accommodated for players? You don't know until any of them counties are in that situation.

"At the minute the most important thing for me is the welfare of the players. If we don't go back until next Sunday we don't go back - but everyone has to be made aware it's not going to be an even playing field when we go back to play the National League games.

"It's not a fair playing field. You kind of ask yourself should there be relegation in the league, if we're not afforded the same chances as Clare?

"In fairness, we have been in contact (with Croke Park), we've made our position clear, I was chatting to Paul Flynn in the GPA on Monday. The GPA and Ulster GAA have been helping us. There's always going to be big boys in the championship, that's just a fact of life."

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