Thursday 21 September 2017

Fermanagh stun Lakemen

FERMANAGH 3-10 WESTMEATH 1-15 All-Ireland SFC Qual Rd 1

Kieran Martin tackles Declan McClusker in Mullingar
Kieran Martin tackles Declan McClusker in Mullingar

Daragh O Conchuir

Fermanagh repeated the trick from their only other championship clash with Westmeath 11 years ago, emerging from Mullingar with a cherished victory.

It was a dramatic ending but the visitors deserved the verdict, having dominated possession and created the better opportunities.

Peter Canavan won't have been happy that they squandered so many of them, though, and 20 wides, in comparison to eight for Westmeath, kept the Lakesiders in touch when they should have been dead and buried.

Fermanagh kicked 12 of their wides in the first half but crucially bagged two goals to lead 2-5 to 0-7 at the break. Denis Glennon had a point on the board from the opening attack for the home team, but Seán Quigley equalised from a free and followed up with two excellent scores from play.

Conor Quigley goaled in the 13th minute, although it was more by accident than design, as his shot from distance flew all the way to the net as his brother Sean pressurised goalkeeper Gary Connaughton. Westmeath kicked three of the next four points but their defence was being breached all too easily and Damian Kelly was found in oceans of space before finishing calmly to the corner of the net in the 25th minute.

Denis Corroon and John Heslin did kick points but Tomás Corrigan ended a run of wides for Fermanagh to leave the margin at four at half-time. It looked like the momentum had switched Westmeath's way when Chris Snow tripped Denis Glennon 10 minutes into the second half and Heslin slotted the resultant penalty to the net to bring the sides level.

Dessie Dolan's introduction excited the home supporters further and Ger Egan, who was much more prominent after the restart, put them ahead.

But it was Fermanagh who found another level, Ryan Jones locating wide-open space to run into before blasting an outstanding 48th-minute goal. Fermanagh soon went five points clear but Callum McCormack, Corroon and Heslin dragged Westmeath back into it, despite the 63rd-minute dismissal of Kieran Martin for a second yellow card.

McCormack ballooned over when it looked easier to goal but made up for it with an equalising point. There was still time for Fermanagh, though, and John Woods stormed forward in the second minute of injury-time to snatch the victory

Scorers – Fermanagh: S Quigley 0-6(4fs), D Kelly 1-1, C Quigley, R Jones 1-0 each, T Corrigan 0-2, J Woods 0-1.

Westmeath: J Heslin 1-5 (1-0 pen, 0-4fs), D Corroon, C McCormack (1 '45') 0-3 each, D Glennon, G Egan 0-2 each.

Fermanagh: C Snow; J Woods, B Cox, D Kelly; D McCusker, R McCluskey, M O'Brien; E Donnelly, M McGrath; T McElroy, S McCabe, R Jones; T Corrigan, S Quigley, C Quigley. Subs: R Corrigan for C Quigley (h-t), D Kille for R Corrigan (55), B Owens for McGrath (66), P Ward for T Corrigan (66), S Lyons for O'Brien (66-70).

Westmeath: G Connaughton; M McCallon, K Gavin, K Maguire; J Gaffey, P Sharry, J Dolan; J Heslin, D Duffy; K Martin, C McCormack, D Corroon; G Egan, L Smith, D Glennon. Subs: D Dolan for Smith (46), C Curley for Duffy (68).

Referee: R Hickey (Clare)

Irish Independent

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