Ulster Senior Football Championship Semi-Final
John Hughes reports from Breffni Park.
It was all so promising at half time. But a dominant second half performance from Monaghan means it will be they rather than Fermanagh who will be preparing for the Ulster final on July 19th.
There were two points in it at the break in favour of Monaghan, but Fermanagh were far from intimidated by their more vaunted opponents. But with the dismissal of Ryan McCluskey in the 57th minute and a goal six minutes later from Conor McManus, Fermanagh’s Ulster final dream was dramatically snuffed out.
It was a tit for tat first half with Kieran Duffy only opening the scoring after six minutes with a tricky right foot shot from the right wing.
Fermanagh’s response came two minutes later when Sean Quigley eased over a lovely free from a couple of metres in front of the 45.
Three minutes on Tomás Corrigan lofted over a beauty from 35 metres to take the Erne men into the lead.
Monaghan showed some evidence of nerves in the first half with Rory Beggan hitting a long range free off post the first of a series of scoreable opportunities spurned.
Parity was restored after 12 minutes when Conor McManus pointed a routine free.
But Fermanagh were competing strongly and after Tiarnán Daly turned over the ball it was worked up the field to Ryan Jones who fired over a beautiful long range score.
A minute later Kieran Hughes did well to screw off a shot with three Fermanagh players hunting around him to level matters once more.
With 22 minutes Neil McAdam found some rare space in the Erne rearguard to steer over a long range point unopposed.
With ten minutes to the break Quigley landed his second long range free of the day, this one from a couple of metres behind the 45.
Ryan Jones then hit his second magnificent score of the half to take Fermanagh back in to the lead.
However Monaghan got back on top of matters as the interval whistle drew nearer.
First Kieran Hughes slotted over a tricky enough free from out on the right to the tie the game up once more.
Then Conor McManus tucked over a handy dead ball in front of posts on the stroke of 35 minutes before Owen Lennon won Thomas Treacy’s kick out and found Darren Hughes who slipped over from an acute angle to make the half time scores Fermanagh 0-5 Monaghan 0-7.
On the resumption Fermanagh did well to stick with Monaghan during the frantic opening exchanges of the second half
Owen Duffy opened the scoring, but Sean Quigley struck back with a cultured left foot shot before Eoin Donnelly found space to romp through and put a single score between the sides, Fermanagh 0-7 Monaghan 0-8. Alas that was as good as it was to get for the Ernesiders.
Over the next few minutes Monaghan put on a spurt of points from Kieran Hughes, Conor McManus (free) and Vinny Corey before Fermanagh next troubled the scoreboard.
That point came in the 44th minute, Sean Quigley easing over a 30 metre free.
Then poor handling came back to haunt Fermanagh. First Richard O’Callaghan lost the ball after a great fetch and it was raced up to Karl O’Connell who sliced over off the right boot. A minute later another poor turn over in the Fermanagh attack was countered up the pitch to Christopher McGuinness who tapped over. Conor McManus then stroked over a free and it was two goals between the sides.
Fermanagh finally found hit a bit of form midway into the half. There were 49 minutes gone when Declan McCusker hoisted over an excellent effort from out on the right and then a minute later Sean Quigley drilled over a sublime laser-guided free.
When Declan McCusker fired over an inspirational score from the right wing 52 minutes in, the huge Fermanagh roar told you that the comeback was potentially on with just a goal between the sides.
Conor McManus hit a rapid answering point from a free and then came what proved a mortal body blow for Fermanagh, Ryan McCluskey getting the line for dropping the knee on Owen Duffy with 57 minutes gone.
Initially Fermanagh reacted well. Pressure from Sean Quigley forced a chance for Tomás Corrigan who screwed over well.
Owen Duffy then pointed after some sustained Monaghan pressure with ten minutes left.
Then two minutes on came another huge turning point, Sean Quigley uncharacteristically going wide from a very scoreable free.
Monaghan piled on the pain after that, scoring an unanswered 1-4.
First Conor McManus drilled over despite be well marshalled by Marty O’Brien. Then Thomas Treacy’s kick out to Eoin Donnelly was robbed by McManus. Treacy saved the Farney danger man’s first attempt well, but he volleyed in the rebound to put eight between the sides and leave it all over bar the shouting.
With three minutes to go to time Stephen Gallogly was fouled going through. He opted to take the penalty himself, but it was well saved by Treacy and scrambled out for a 45 which Rory Beggan scored.
There were late points from Gallogly and Owen Duffy to made it 1-20 for the Oriel men, while an Aidan Breen point with the last kick of the game gave Fermanagh 13 points for their exertions, but in truth it was all over in that six minute spell from 57 minutes when McCluskey went off to the 63rd when McManus hit the net.
Now Fermanagh must refocus for the back door and the second round qualifiers. Pete McGrath’s men will be involved in Round 2A of the qualifiers which will see them back in action on Saturday, July 4. Their potential opponents will come from one of the four Round 1A winners; Antrim, Cavan, Longford or Offaly. The Round 2A qualifier draw will take place tomorrow morning, Monday, on RTÉ Radio after the 8.30am news. The draw will also be streamed live on GAA.ie. A separate draw will be made for home advantage and where two teams have met previously in this year’s provincial championship the winner of the provincial game shall have home advantage.
Sean Quigley 0-5, 4f; Declan McCusker 0-2; Ryan Jones 0-2; Tomás Corrigan 0-2; Eoin Donnelly 0-1; Aidan Breen 0-1.
Conor McManus 1-6, 5f; Kieran Hughes 0-3, 1f; Owen Duffy 0-2; Rory Beggan 0-1 45; Vinny Corey, Karl O’Connell, Neil McAdam, Darren Hughes, Kieran Duffy, Owen Lennon, Stephen Gallogly, Christopher McGuinness all 0-1.
Thomas Treacy; Michael Jones, Niall Cassidy, Marty O’Brien; Declan McCusker, Ryan McCluskey, Barry Mulrone; Eoin Donnelly, Richard O’Callaghan; Ryan Jones, Ciaran Flaherty, Paul McCusker; Tomás Corrigan, Sean Quigley, Tiarnán Daly.
Subs: Ruairí Corrigan for Ciarán Flaherty 42m; Conall Jones for Richard O’Callaghan 59m; Daniel Kille for Paul McCusker; Aidan Breen for Michael Jones 67m.
Rory Beggan; Colin Walshe, Fintan Kelly, Ryan Wylie; Dessie Mone, Vinny Corey, Karl O’Connell; Neil McAdam, Darren Hughes; Kieran Duffy, Kieran Hughes, Shane Carey; Owen Lennon, Dermot Malone, Conor McManus.
Subs: Owen Duffy for Shane Carey HT; Christopher McGuinness for Dermot Malone HT; Dick Clerkin for Owen Lennon 40m; Stephen Gallogly for Fintan Kelly 59m; Paul Finlay for Kieran Hughes 64m; Conor Boyle for Dessie Mone 67m.
Referee: Padraig O’Sullivan (Kerry)
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