Minors fall just short after gallant effort

Fermanagh huddle together after narrowest of defeats

Fermanagh huddle together after narrowest of defeats


Fermanagh 2-5  
Cavan 0-12

Fermanagh minors exited the Ulster Championship as they came up just short in this taut quarter final tussle with Cavan on Sunday evening at Clones.

In what became a rousing contest the Erne youngsters made a strong pitch to earn a semi final ticket but in the end just couldn’t prise out the late scores and Cavan who had won their preliminary round tie the previous Sunday over Armagh by the minimum, were to have another wafer thin success.

In the overall context of the contest Cavan were to be the stronger side but conceding a goal in each half ensured that they were not going to have an easy passage here and in the end they found themselves just hanging on in the face of a resolute Fermanagh challenge.

The Fermanagh goals certainly kept this game alive as a real contest and they came at critical times especially the opener which clawed the faltering Erne team right back into the chase while the second provided the team with a solid platform for the second half.

But Fermanagh just didn’t have enough command to drive home the advantages presented by these tonic scores and it was resilient Cavan who possessed the all round quality to force their way back from those setbacks.

After some indifferent early exchanges it was Cavan who gradually gained a strong foothold in the game as they began to mop up most of the possession in the middle third of the pitch.

But there was to be only minimal reward on the scoreboard for them, a paltry three points tally, two of these coming from placed kicks by wing half forward Ben Kiernen and one from play by Pierce Smith.

Still with Fermanagh offering up little indication that they could make headway, Cavan were looking comfortable enough.

But the Breiffni side were then jolted by a Fermanagh goal which came completely out of the blue.
A ball was played down the right flank to corner forward Sean Keenan who used his physique to fend off the attentions of a close marking defender and the ‘Skea player precisely slid a low shot into the bottom corner of the Cavan net.

It was a score which momentarily at least changed the tenor of the exchanges.

Cavan were ruffled, Fermanagh on the other hand definitely perked up and over the next five minutes it was the Erne boys who dictated.

They were to creep into the lead with two scores both well taken by midfielder Eoin McManus who steered over a 45 and then a mid distance free.

The lead however was shortlived as Cavan bounced back and their nimblest forward Tom Hayes popped over two fine points from play to have the sides level at the break.

From a Fermanagh point of view it was a satisfactory scoreline, Cavan on the other hand would have been dismayed that for all their authority they were only on par with the opposition

There was an electric restart from Fermanagh as they prised out their second goal of the evening immediately on the resumption. Sean Keenan squirmed his way through in a tight situation, passed on to Kevin Curran and the centre forward cracked in a strong shot which keeper McDermott could only partially parry.

A great opportunity now for Fermanagh but they couldn’t push on and Cavan set doggedly about the task of once more hauling themselves back.

They did so with some enterprising play over the next ten to fifteen minutes as they again gained a lot of possession in the middle third. Sub Harry O’Neill opened their comeback with a neat point, Tom Hayes darted in for the second and wing halves Conor Bradley and Niall Clerkin both marauded forward for scores that edged the team ahead.
But Fermanagh had been bolstered by the second goal and there was a sense that they could create an upset here.
So the final quarter turned out to be a rollicking affair and the issue was poised right to the finish.

Shame Mimna drove a point to level the sides, Hayes knocked over his fourth score of a profitable evening, Sean Keenan danced in for another leveller and corner back Cian McManus came within a whisker of fisting a dramatic third goal.

It was a distinct let off for Cavan and they were then to clinch what was a hard won result.

Wing half Bradley advanced for his second point of the contest, Kiernen floated over a free to make it a two point lead but it was by no means a done and dusted deal.

Fermanagh were now playing with great endeavour and Keenan coolly slotted a free to leave it the one pointer.Still time in hand to at least carve out the draw but two late openings not availed of by wrong option taking  and Cavan hung on in a thrilling finale.