Tomas Corrigan inspires Fermanagh to victory over Westmeath and quarter-final berth
Fermanagh 1-13 Westmeath 0-7
A MONTH after their epic comeback against Meath, Westmeath ran out of championship road in Kingspan Breffni Park today, comprehensively beaten by a Tomás Corrigan-inspired Fermanagh.
The pre-match script suggested that, if Fermanagh were to qualify for their first All-Ireland quarter-final in 11 years, Seán Quigley would be the scoring talisman who dragged them there.
Instead, it was left to his inside partner, the more impish Corrigan, to destroy Westmeath's wilting resistance with a masterclass from play and from frees … while the misfiring Quigley would finish with just one point from play, one converted free, and six wides.
Not that it mattered on a day when Corrigan crowned his match-winning 1-7 haul with a sublime 64th chip over Westmeath's stranded sub 'keeper/selector, Gary Connaughton.
By then, though, the fire in Westmeath had long since died, the injury-enforced absence of John Heslin proving fatal for a forward line that collectively bombed, with the exception of John Connellan, who was only able to complete the first half.
That opening period finished in parity, 0-5 apiece, but after Corrigan (free) and Denis Glennon had swapped points on the resumption, Fermanagh turned up the third-quarter temperature and their opponents visibly wilted.
Quigley gave a fist salute following his first and only point from play to kickstart an unanswered sequence of 1-6, capped by Corrigan's wonder goal, as Westmeath endured a 28-minute scoring drought.
Fermanagh will now face Kerry or Dublin on August 2, depending on the outcome of tonight's Cork/Kildare qualifier. And yet, for the opening half-hour, such a scenario looked unlikely.
This was billed in advance as a great opportunity for both wannabe quarter-finalists, and yet both seemed determined to kick it away during a poor-quality opening half.
The half finished all-square but with Fermanagh shading the wide count 10-7, their talisman Quigley squandering three of his four dead ball attempts.
Westmeath will rue their failure to press on after stretching into a three-point lead, 0-5 to 0-2, after 25 minutes. This advantage was established largely thanks to the shooting acumen of John Connellan who kicked two frees off his right and two sharp efforts from play off his left.
But then Corrigan came into his own by kicking the last three points of the half, the first two from play before he tapped over an injury-time free.
That first half was more notable, however, for referee Padraig Hughes' brandishing of his black card. He dispatched Fermanagh's Marty O'Brien for dragging down Kieran Martin in the 19th minute and then, on his linesman's advice, banished Ryan McCluskey for a similar infringement (after the ball had gone) on Killian Daly.
With tempers rising on the pitch, Ryan Jones immediately picked up a yellow but all the fractiousness seemed to ignite the Ernesiders - and more specifically Corrigan with his late hat-trick of scores.
The Fermanagh team exited the pitch to a chorus of acclaim from their partisan support in a crowd of 10,738 ... the same fans then followed up with a volley of raucous boos for the Armagh referee. By the full-time whistle, though, the jeers had long been replaced by cheers.
SCORERS - Fermanagh: T Corrigan 1-7 (5f), S Quigley(1f), D McCusker 0-2 each, N Cassidy, D Kelly 0-1 each. Westmeath: J Connellan 0-4 (2f), S Dempsey, D Glennon, R Connellan (f) 0-1 each.
FERMANAGH: T Treacy; M Jones, T Daly, N Cassidy; B Mulrone, R McCluskey, J McMahon; E Donnelly, R O'Callaghan; M O'Brien, R Jones, D McCusker; P McCusker, S Quigley, T Corrigan. Subs: D Kelly for O'Brien (black card 19), R Corrigan for McCluskey (black card 30), C Jones for Donnelly (44), C Cullen for Cassidy (70).
WESTMEATH: D Quinn; K Maguire, K Gavin, F Boyle; J Gilligan, P Holloway, K Daly; D Corroon, R Connellan; J Dolan, P Sharry, K Martin; J Connellan, D Glennon, S Dempsey. Subs: G Egan for J Connellan (ht), D Lynch for Maguire (41), D Daly for Dempsey (46), G Connaughton for Quinn (56), L Smyth for Glennon (58), P Greville for Holloway (58).
REF: P Hughes (Armagh)