Friday 24 November 2017

Strong finish sends Erne men through

Fermanagh 0-12 Donegal 0-8

Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath (Sportsfile)
Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath (Sportsfile)

Orla Bannon

There could well be a far more important meeting between these teams in five months' time, but Fermanagh will take this January scalp all the same.

Pete McGrath's side cruised through to the knockout stages of Ulster's pre-season competition, finishing strong to book a place in the McKenna Cup semi-finals at Brewster Park last night.

Trailing by 0-7 to 0-6 after 47 minutes, they outscored an experimental Donegal line-up by six points to two in what was a decent run-out for both sides.

While Donegal boss Rory Gallagher won't be too disappointed with the result against his native county, there were not too many of the new faces who made a strong case for inclusion when the league begins in a few weeks' time.

Fermanagh, who could face Donegal in the Ulster SFC if they overcome Antrim, cruised into the Sunday's knockout stages with a 100pc record.

The sides were level four times in a pretty competitive first half.

Odhran MacNiallais was the most impressive player on the pitch at that stage, kicking three first-half points including points from play off either foot.

Eoin Donnelly fisted over the opening point in the third minute but Donegal responded through MacNiallais and Ciaran Thompson.

Fermanagh replied with a snap-shot point from Ciaran Flaherty and a superbly converted 30-metre sideline kick by Sean Quigley, which was worth the trip to Brewster Park alone.

However, Donegal hit three points in a row, two from MacNiallais including a 35-metre left-footed free, and a well-worked point on the break from Marty O'Reilly to put the visitors 0-5 to 0-3 ahead.

Yet again Fermanagh responded, with Declan McCusker and Quigley (free) drawing them level at 0-5 apiece by the interval.

Fermanagh would have been fairly happy to have held Michael Murphy scoreless in the opening half, but he broke his duck in the 41st minute with a close-range free.

Tomas Corrigan had been in great scoring form in Fermanagh's opening two wins over St Mary's and Down, but struggled to make an impact, while Quigley nailed a 45-metre effort to put the home side 0-9 to 0-7 ahead after 52 minutes.

Fermanagh sub Pat Cadden got on the end of a well-worked move to restore their two-point cushion with just over 10 minutes to go and he scored again to seal it late on.

scorers - Fermanagh: S Quigley 0-5 (4f), E Donnelly 0-2, P Cadden 0-2, D McCusker, J McMahon, C Flaherty 0-1 each. Donegal: O MacNiallais 0-4 (2f), M Murphy (f), C Thompson, M O'Reilly, C Gillespie 0-1 each.

Fermanagh - C Snow; M Jones, A Breen, P McGovern; D McCusker, J McMahon, D Kelly; E Donnelly, C Jones; B Mulrone, C Flaherty, P McCusker; R Hanna, S Quigley, T Corrigan. Subs: N Cassidy for Kelly (h-t), D Teague for Corrigan (48), P Cadden for Hanna (53), E McManus for C Jones (61), K Connor for D McCusker (68).

Donegal - P Boyle; P McGrath, N McGee, E Doherty; E Gallagher, C Ward, M O'Reilly; C McGonagle, H McFadden; S McBrearty, L McLoone, C Thompson; O MacNiallais, M Murphy, E McHugh. Subs: F McGlynn for McBrearty (25), M McElhinney for McLoone (h-t), C Gillespie for C Thompson (h-t), A Thompson for McElhinney (BC, 46), M Carroll for McFadden (57), C Thompson for Ward (61).

Ref - N Mooney (Cavan)

Irish Independent

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