Curry too strong for Louth as Fermanagh make step up
Fermanagh 1-15 Louth 2-8 Nicky Rackard Cup play-off
Fermanagh won the right to compete in the Nicky Rackard Cup next season, just a week after a Lory Meagher Cup triumph that they felt entitled them to that status.
But another gutsy triumph here will have added to their conviction that they have the mettle and the skills required for a successful step up in 2016.
They were assured winners over Louth in a promotion/relegation play-off at Kingspan Breffni Park, despite the fact that their best player was goalkeeper Mark Curry.
Seamus McCusker's side performed with assurance, and some stylish hurling had their opponents in trouble all afternoon.
Curry pulled off a string of inspired saves to keep the Wee County out, but his attacking colleagues missed a few goal chances.
John Duffy, Thomas Cleary and Sean Corrigan hit early points as the Ulster men went four clear, before Gerard Smyth narrowed the gap to a point.
Fermanagh took control in the second quarter, hitting eight successive scores, with Kevin McGarry, Daniel Teague, Ciaran Corrigan and Karl Kehoe all on target.
They led by 0-13 to 0-5 at the interval, but Smyth fired in two second-half goals, from a penalty and a 20 metre free.
Fermanagh responded with an individual goal from Teague, but they were forced on to the back foot in the closing stages, with Curry pulling off a couple of spectacular saves to deny substitute Paul McGoldrick.
Smyth's second goal came too late to give his side any realistic chance of mounting a comeback that would preserve their Nicky Rackard Cup status, and they limped out in disappointing fashion.
Scorers - Fermanagh: D Teague 1-3 (0-1f), K McGarry 0-3 (0-1 pen), C Corrigan, S Corrigan, J Duffy (2fs) 0-2 each, T Cleary, D McGarry, K Kehoe 0-1 each. Louth: G Smyth 2-5 (1-5f, 1-0 pen), P Lynch, S Callan, S Connelly 0-1 each.
Fermanagh - M Curry, D Teague, M Teague, F Bannon, K Kehoe, M Slevin, B Duffy, J Duffy, D McGarry, T Cleary, K McGarry, A Breslin, S Corrigan, D Teague, C Corrigan. Subs: S Curran for Cleary (43), JP McGarry for Breslin (61), C Rice for C Corrigan (69).
Louth - A Carter, E McKeown, B Carter, R McKeown, N Cafferkey, J Condon, C Ryan, S Callan, D O'Hanrahan, L Dwan, G Smyth, A Mackin, G Kane, S Connelly, P Lynch. Subs: N Stanley for Dwan (9), C Kerrigan for McKeown (34), C O'Reilly for Lynch (55), D Yore for Cafferkey (60).
REF - O Elliott (Antrim)