by John P Graham
Malachy O'Rourke says that Fermanagh "will be more advanced" than his Monaghan side when the two counties met tomorrow fortnight in the opening round of the Dr McKenna Cup.
O'Rourke revealed that his charges only recently returned to training due to a hectic club schedule in the Farney County while Fermanagh, under the new rule of ex-Donegal boss Rory Gallagher, have been back a couple of weeks now.
With a new man at the helm and a few players returned to the set-up, O'Rourke knows it's a game in which the Ernesiders will be firmly up for come January 3rd in Clones.
"They most certainly will and I suppose from myself working here in Fermanagh I know the degree of expectation that is building around the team," said the Derrylin native.
"I know also they have already put in a lot of serious work and they have been training now for quite some time, whereas we are only really back into training now with the Monaghan leagues and that having run that bit late.
"As a result of that Fermanagh will be more advanced than we are and we have to take that into account and they are a very competitive team.
"We have brought in a few new lads and it will give them a chance to impress because there are some good young lads coming through who showed up well in the championships and it gives us a chance to have a good look at them and what value they can add to the panel and whether they are up to the demands of inter county football or not.
"At the same time we have to give game time to the more established players with the national league just around the corner and starting a lot earlier this year, so it will be a mixture of youth and experience over the 3 games and we will look to get a better balance in that regard."