Thursday 22 February 2018

Canavan admits wasteful Fermanagh must find cutting edge

Fermanagh 3-10 Westmeath 1-15

Daragh O Conchuir

It may have taken a 72nd-minute point from corner-back John Woods to clinch the victory, but both managers were in agreement that Fermanagh were the deserving victors.

The visitors were the better team throughout but nearly paid the price for kicking 20 wides, 12 of which came in the first half.

Their victory was founded on a stout defensive performance – with Ryan McCluskey outstanding in a sweeping role – and Westmeath never managed to get Denis Glennon or Dessie Dolan (after his introduction) into the game.

Had they lost though, they would only have had themselves to blame. "The wide tally speaks for itself and a lot of those were from good scoring positions," said Fermanagh manager Peter Canavan.

"It is the one aspect of our game I was disappointed with – that we didn't finish them off much earlier when we had the opportunities.

"But what a way to win the game, after leading it for virtually all of the game, and to come back and get a fantastic winning point by our corner-back Johnny Woods.

"It is nothing that these boys haven't deserved. Their application and attitude has been excellent and this victory is thoroughly deserved, not only on this performance but on their work rate throughout the year."

Westmeath boss Pat Flanagan felt that the heavy defeat by Dublin had probably left its mark on his players.

"We didn't turn up at all," Flanagan admitted. "Whether it is a result of what happened to us in Croke Park I'm not sure, but we certainly didn't turn up. We weren't the team that played here in the league and to be fair to Fermanagh they were by far the better team.

"They showed a lot more hunger and a lot more desire for the game. They kicked so many wides they could have been well ahead at half-time."

Glennon had a point on the board from the opening attack for the home team, but Sean Quigley equalised from a free and followed up with two excellent scores from play.

Conor Quigley's kick from distance found the net in the 13th minute as his brother made a nuisance of himself when jumping with Gary Connaughton and Kieran Gavin.

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.

They kept spurning opportunities though and their 2-5 to 0-7 interval advantage was barely an accurate reflection of their superiority.

It looked like the momentum had switched Westmeath's way when Chris Snow tripped Glennon 10 minutes into the second half and Heslin slotted the resultant penalty to the net to bring the sides level.

Ger Egan put the hosts ahead immediately afterwards and with Dolan entering the fray, the stage looked set for a stirring Westmeath victory.

Fermanagh continued to pour forward though and Ryan Jones was able to run into another big gap before blasting a brilliant goal towards the end of the third quarter.

The men in green soon went five points clear but McCormack, Denis Corroon and John 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 after a strong shoulder by Corroon forced a turnover. There was still time for Fermanagh though and in the second minute of injury-time Woods snatched the victory.

"Tactically, we were no different than two weeks ago," explained Canavan. "A lot of people may have criticised us for that, but we felt the tactics were good enough two weeks ago to have won the game and we felt the same again.

"But at the same time you have to kick the ball over the bar and that is definitely an aspect of our game we have to work on."

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 7; J Woods 7, B Cox 7, D Kelly 8; D McCusker 6, R McCluskey 9, M O'Brien 7; E Donnelly 7, M McGrath 7; T McElroy 7, S McCabe 6, R Jones 7; T Corrigan 7, S Quigley 7, C Quigley 6. Subs: R Corrigan 6 for C Quigley (h-t), D Kille 6 for R Corrigan (55), B Owens 6 for McGrath (66), P Ward 6 for T Corrigan (66), S Lyons 6 for O'Brien (66-70).

Westmeath – G Connaughton 5; M McCallon 6, K Gavin 6, K Maguire 6; J Gaffey 6, P Sharry 7, J Dolan 6; J Heslin 7, D Duffy 7; K Martin 5, C McCormack 7, D Corroon 8; G Egan 7, L Smith 6, D Glennon 6. Subs: D Dolan 6 for Smith (46), C Curley 6 for Duffy (68).

Ref – R Hickey (Clare)

Irish Independent

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