Wednesday 11 December 2019

Forwards in the firing line after Meath flop

Fermanagh 0-10 Meath 0-6

Fermanagh’s Ryan Jones is fouled by Mickey Newman of Meath during their clash in Brewster Park. Photo: Seb Daly / Sportsfile
Fermanagh’s Ryan Jones is fouled by Mickey Newman of Meath during their clash in Brewster Park. Photo: Seb Daly / Sportsfile
Meath's Cillian O’Sullivan in action against Fermanagh's James McMahon. Photo: Seb Daly / Sportsfile

Orla Bannon

Mick O'Dowd pointed an accusing finger of blame at his under-performing forwards after Meath failed to fire in Fermanagh.

The wet, heavy conditions in Brewster Park went some way towards excusing Meath's malfunction as an attacking force, but their manager had little interest in saving their blushes after a meagre six points.

They were also held scoreless for 25 minutes either side of half-time, after Andrew Tormey was sent off in the first half after picking up yellow and black cards.

"We weren't able to work the ball into the shooting zone and I'd put that down to a low energy in our attacking play," said O'Dowd. "We scored six points and only one from play - end of story.

"We only conceded 10 points, which is not bad especially with 14 men, but our attacking play was just very poor."

All the free-takers struggled on a sodden pitch, but having beaten Armagh in their opening fixture a week earlier, O'Dowd couldn't hide his disappointment at his team's lethargy.

"If you'd asked me this morning I'd have said we couldn't have prepared any better. Things went very well during the week," he said. "But you have to be ready. We knew what to expect coming up here and it's not an excuse for six points."

Tomas Corrigan, who took over the free-taking duties from the unusually wayward Sean Quigley, scored 0-4 in the last 15 minutes as Fermanagh picked up their first win in Division 2.

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Pete McGrath had labelled the game as 'must win' after his team's opening loss to Derry and they packed the defence, showing little ambition to push forward even with the extra man.

But they were efficient, well organised and thoroughly deserved to stretch their unbeaten home record to 11 games, going back to June 2014.

"It is something we talked about as a group," said McGrath. "We talked at half-time about the two valuable league points at stake and this run we have at Brewster.

"I thought the players performed with great energy and played some good football in trying conditions.

"It was a day for character, for resilience and for people standing up and taking responsibility and that's what we did in the last 20 minutes.


"It wasn't just a great victory but a very memorable victory, and one which I hope we can build on going forward in this very difficult League campaign."

The sides were level three times in the opening 20 minutes, Eoin Donnelly's booming 55-metre point after 10 seconds setting the tone for a fully committed Fermanagh display.

Cillian O'Sullivan's sideline conversion in the 21st minute put Meath 0-3 to 0-2 ahead but they were hurt by the harsh dismissal of Tormey after 23 minutes, for blocking the run of a Fermanagh attacker.

Quigley stepped up with three unanswered points before the interval, mixing the good with the bad. He scored a tricky free followed by a '45' but then missed two easier kicks, yet he still had Fermanagh 0-5 to 0-3 ahead at the break.

Donal Lenihan ended Meath's long scoring drought with a left-footed point in the 43rd minute.

Sean Tobin and Mickey Newman missed kickable frees but the former converted a '45' and then hit a free in the 50th minute to put Meath ahead, but it proved to be their last score.

When it came down to it, Fermanagh had the greater stomach for the fight in awful conditions and were smarter in possession.

They carried the ball well into the wind and drew the fouls, which Corrigan duly converted, and Barry Mulrone kicked the last score.

"We had too many unforced turnovers, it just wasn't good enough up front," added O'Dowd.

Scorers - Fermanagh: T Corrigan 0-4 (4fs), S Quigley 0-3 (1f, 1 '45'), A Breen, E Donnelly, B Mulrone 0-1 each; Meath: S Tobin 0-3 (2fs, 1 '45'), D Lenihan, C O'Sullivan, M Newman (f) 0-1 each.

Fermanagh - C Snow 7; M Jones 7, C Cullen 7, N Cassidy 7; P Rehill 7, J McMahon 7, A Breen 7; E Donnelly 9, D Kelly 7; B Mulrone 8, C Flaherty 7, R Hanna 7; R Corrigan 7, S Quigley 8, T Corrigan 8. Subs: P McGovern 6 for Rehill (43), R Jones 6 for Hanna (43). K Connor 6 for Kelly (58), E McHugh 6 for Breen (70).

Meath - P O'Rourke 7; D Keogan 7, C McGill 6, M Burke 7; B Power 7, P Harnan 7, C Finn 6; H Rooney 7, A Tormey 6; G Reilly 7, C O'Sullivan 7, J McEntee 6; S Tobin 6, M Newman 6, D Lenihan 6.

Subs: E Wallace 6 for Lenihan (45), D Smyth 6 for McEntee (57), A Douglas 6 for Finn (63), B O'Brien 6 for Tobin (68), R O Coilleann 6 for Reilly (69).

Ref - S Hurson (Tyrone).

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