A fifth game victorious in Fortress Brewster and a fifth game unbeaten for Pete McGrath’s men. Fermanagh impressed again as they disposed of the challenge of Limerick with a authoritative second half which saw the hosts lead by 13 points at one stage.
The Fermanagh manager acknowledges that Ruairí Corrigan’s wonderstrike midway through the half was a major boost to the cause.
“There are very few players in the game now who actually take players on. That creativity and self-expression has been taken away from a lot of players and we let Ruairí at it,” said McGrath.
“When he gets a sniff and sees people on the back foot he knows how to wriggle and weave and he keeps the shots low. It was a goal that was we sort of needed, it gave us a good bit of daylight even though we let them back into the game after it. Ruairí is playing really well and he’s like an old fashioned winger, he’s a dying breed nearly.
“We were very edgy in the first half, Limerick really came up to make a game of it and did that. At times Limerick put us on the back foot. We had control of the match at times in the first half, then they wrested control of the match from us, but it was much better in the second half.
“We got the first couple of scores in the second half and got our running game up and going and our support play with men coming off the shoulder at pace and with penetration. And then when we got significant daylight between us and them I think their heads dropped a wee bit and we then began to find more energy and more gears and more scores.
“For 25 minutes of the second half I think we were very much in control, we were putting over some excellent scores, effectively had the game won, and then it was just a bit disappointing that we became a bit careless at the end in the last three or four minutes where we conceded a goal and a point.
“Nevertheless a nine point victory is very gratifying and the fact is we are now in a very strong position, if we can get a couple more points, to ensure promotion.”
One blot on the copy book was the degree to which Limerick dominated around the centre of the park. McGrath recognised the problem, but was content that his charges rose to the challenge.
“Our breaking ball count wasn’t great at half-time. I think we only had won only two of their nine kick outs in the first half which was disappointing. Then in the second half in the second half they had a lot more kick-outs, thankfully, and we were winning a lot more breaking ball and indeed ball in the air. It’s the old story. When you get a platform in the middle of the field it helps your general play,” said McGrath.
“There is a lot of hard work and hard grafting that goes on, Decky [McCusker] and Barry Mulrone typify that. Ryan McCluskey is able to organise things and play smart. We didn’t play young James McMahon because of the under 21 game on Wednesday night and he’s been a massive player for us all year. So there’s an awful lot to be happy and enthusiastic about and we’ll try and drive it on now into our next game and get the necessary two points that will secure promotion.”
One huge asset in that promotion drive has been Sean Quigley, the 11 point haul on Sunday a healthy contribution to the final scoreline. However the manager was keen to highlight the Roslea sharpshooter’s contribution from open play.
This was noticeably prominent against the Treaty men as he roved back out around the middle of the field, mopping up ball and picking passes.
“Today as well we saw another side of Sean, his creative side,” said McGrath. “The ball that he gave for Decky McCusker was excellent. We were very good going forward for most of the game and in fairness to Limerick at times in the first half they did give us bother. They had big men in the middle of the field and they were winning more than their fair share and they did put us under pressure. But once we got a bit of fluency into our game and got a bit of support play up and running I always thought we were going to win the game from halfway through the second half.”
Another plus for McGrath is the rude health of the squad, the departure of Richard O’Callaghan through injury an usual sight in this campaign.
“They are in good shape,” said McGrath. “Richard has a hip problem that is definitely militating against him, but the rest of them are in good shape and in our matches to date we’ve always done well in the second half and I think our fitness is the main reason for that.”
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