Patrick McBrearty back with a bang as Donegal prove too strong for Fermanagh
Donegal 0-15 Fermanagh 0-9
Patrick McBrearty marked his return to competitive action for Donegal for the first time since last year's Ulster final against the same opposition with five points as Donegal eventually got the freedom to open Fermanagh up in a tense Ulster quarter-final in Brewster Park, Enniskillen.
Jamie Brennan also chipped in with four points as Donegal's patience was eventually rewarded against a well organised Fermanagh defence, regularly featuring all 15 players behind the ball.
There was scarcely a goal opportunity for either side in almost 80 minutes of action but after leading by just a point, 0-5 to 0-4, at the interval Donegal were able to play the second half very much on their own terms.
From the throw-in, which Jason McGee claimed, every Fermanagh player raced to get behind the ball and it became patently clear that they were going to squeeze every available inch on Donegal's shooters.
For a long time it worked. Donegal got shots away but they were hurried and heavy pressure was applied. The visitors sought to use as much width as possible but Fermanagh were disciplined in their approach if not in some of their tackling as they picked up four first-half yellow cards.
But the work of James McMahon and Declan McCusker especially in closing down that space was hugely effective.
They edged themselves with points from Ultan Kelm on the break and Sean Quigley from a free before Donegal finally landed a point, Jamie Brennan kicking high from about 40 metres to ease their growing tensions, on 18 minutes.
From there Donegal were a little more comfortable as the game loosened out in the second quarter.
Donegal hit 10 second-half points, many from distance with Michael Murphy looping to land two.
Fermanagh got to within a point, 0-9 to 0-8 at one stage when Ciaran Corrigan pointed in the 52nd minute but their game was never expansive enough to press on.
Scorers - Donegal: P McBrearty 0-5 (2fs), J Brennan 0-4, M Murphy 0-2, M Langan, J McGee, L McLoone, C Thompson all 0-1 each.
Fermanagh: U Kelm, C Jones (2fs), C Corrigan all 0-2 each, R Jones, S Quigley, B Mulrone all 0-1 each.
Donegal: S Patton; P McGrath, N McGee, S McMenamin, EB Gallagher, D O'Baoill, R McHugh; H McFadden, J McGee; C Thompson, M Langan, L McLoone; P McBrearty, M Murphy, J Brennan. Subs: F McGlynn for O Baoill (49), N O'Donnell for McLoone (55), E McHugh for McGrath (61), E Doherty for R McHugh inj (71), P Brennan for Thompson (73).
Fermanagh: J McGrath; J Cassidy, C Cullen, L Cullen; U Kelm, J McMahon, K Connor; E Donnelly, R Jones; D McCusker, A Breen, C Corrigan; D Teague, C Jones, S Quigley. Subs: B Mulrone for Teague (h-t), P McCusker for Quigley (44), T Clarke for Connor (61), R Lyons for Breen (64), D Teague for D McCusker (68).
Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan)