Saturday 16 December 2017

McGrath's Fermanagh ready to realise potential

Fermanagh 1-16 Down 0-10

Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath. Photo: Philip Fitzpatrick/Sportsfile
Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath. Photo: Philip Fitzpatrick/Sportsfile

Orla Bannon

Such is the changed football landscape in Ulster that an away victory over Down is not the scalp it once was, but the emphatic nature of Fermanagh's win on Saturday night still had manager Pete McGrath buzzing.

A nine-point cruise to open their Division 2 league campaign was further sign of the progress they've made under the Mourne legend.

Down manager Eamonn Burns. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Down manager Eamonn Burns. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

"I've been with the players now for three years and I know the potential," said McGrath.

"It's taken them a while to realise when I was saying how good they were, I wasn't being patronising, or building them up into something they weren't."

Barring a 15-minute spell before half-time, Fermanagh controlled the play in Páirc Esler. They still led 0-6 to 0-5 at the break and bossed the second-half, playing with a sense of purpose that was a step beyond Down.

The Mourne county haven't won a match in league or championship since April 2015, and the lack of confidence was obvious.

"We approached the game thinking we had a good chance of winning so there is a lot of disappointment," said Down boss Eamonn Burns.

Scorers - Fermanagh: T Corrigan 0-8 (7fs), E McManus 1-0, A Breen 0-2, S Quigley, E Courtney, P McCusker, B Mulrone, C Beacom, R Lyons 0-1 each. Down: A Davidson 0-5 (2f, 0-1 '45'), S Millar, C McGovern, K McKernan, J Murphy, A Carr 0-1 each

Fermanagh - T Treacy 6; M Jones 7, C Cullen 7, C McManus 7; D McCusker 8, R McCluskey 8, A Breen 8; E Donnelly 7, L Cullen 7; B Mulrone 7, E McManus 6, P McCusker 6; E Courtney 6, S Quigley 5, T Corrigan 8. Subs: C Beacom for Courtney (57), J McMahon for McCluskey(64), D Keenan for E McManus (64), P Reihill for P McCusker (72), R Lyons for Quigley (74), T McCaffrey for Corrigan (76)

Down - M Cunningham 5; R McAleenan 5, G McGovern 6, D O'Hagan 5; D McKeever 5, C McGovern 6, B McArdle 5; A Carr 6, J Flynn 6; J Murphy 5, C Magee 6, S Millar 5; A Davidson 7, P Havern 6, B O'Hagan 5. Subs: C Mooney 5 for McArdle (HT), K McKernan 6 for McKeever (42), Ryan Johnston 5 for Millar (45), P Turley 5 for Flynn (63), C Maginn 5 for Murphy (63)

Ref - F Kelly (Longford)

Irish Independent

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