Wednesday 18 September 2019

Fermanagh held by students in drab clash

Fermanagh 1-9 Ulster University 0-12

Gallagher: Jury is still very much out on the experimental rules. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Gallagher: Jury is still very much out on the experimental rules. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile Sportsdesk

The drizzly, blustery conditions in Derrygonnelly were an appropriate fit for this dreary opening contest of the season between Fermanagh and Ulster University.

The experimental playing rules were probably the main talking point of a game which saw honours even after 75 minutes of drab football.

Erne boss Rory Gallagher, for one, wasn't singing the praises of the new rules.

"Conditions were difficult, but I felt it made things much more stop-start, there were more turn-overs in possession in comparison to the game we normally play," he lamented.

"Today is only day one, but I think there was a huge level of frustration at the number of short kick-passes backwards, with players getting bottled up in the corners.

"Are the people who made the rules just looking for you to thump the ball into the inside? I think teams will learn you're better kicking the ball out over the sideline and getting men behind the ball.

"The forward mark, while I can see the reasons for it, caused a lot of negatives for the defender. If they heard a whistle, they stopped automatically and then the player would play on. It led to an awful level of confusion.

"I can't speak for the officials, but I can only imagine it's an awful lot of extra workload on them and difficult to monitor. We had a top-class referee in Joe McQuillan and I'd imagine he found it difficult."

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The game turned into a contest of the free-takers. Darragh McGurn kicked five first-half frees on his county debut to send Fermanagh in leading 0-8 to 0-5.

On the turnaround, Conall Jones bundled in a goal to put six between them, but five second-half frees from Tyrone star Lee Brennan saw Ulster University claw their way back into the game and earn a merited draw.

Gallagher was happy to just get the season up and running.

"It was good to get out and get a competitive game against Jordanstown," the Fermanagh boss reflected. "They are in good condition now. We found it difficult against Queen's last year and today was no different.

"We were in a good position after we scored the goal, but they had a good breeze in the second half and they finished much stronger than us."

Scorers - Fermanagh: D McGurn 0-6 (6f), C Jones 1-0, R Lyons, R Jones, K McDonnell 0-1 each. Ulster University: Lee Brennan 0-9 (7f), Daniel Kerr 0-2, S Fegan 0-1.

Fermanagh - T Treacy; J Cassidy, T Daly, C McManus; K McDonnell, D McCusker, L Cullen; R Lyons, U Kelm; R O'Callaghan, R Jones, T Clarke; D Teague, C Jones, D McGurn. Subs: E Donnelly for O'Callaghan (27), C Corrigan for Teague (38), A Breen for Lyons (43), C McGee for Clarke (48), K Connor for McDonnell (61).

Ulster University - T McConville; M Magee, M McKernan, S Fegan; D Gallagher, M McEvoy, P Durcan; T O'Brien, P Teague; N Donnelly, C O'Hagan, J Doherty; L Brennan, D Kerr, L Harney.

Subs: P Laverty for Doherty (39), R Beatty for Magee (51), O Duffin for O'Hagan (51), C Quinn for Teague (59), N Jones for Harney (59).

Ref - J McQuillan (Cavan).

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