The defining moments of this clash were those at the end normal time. Fermanagh lead by four at that point and looked set fair for NHL Division 3A, but a Red Hand smash and grab deep into added time left the Erne co-manager wondering what might have been.
“It came down to two minutes that was played above the allocated time,” said McCusker. “I had my stopwatch going and I showed it to the linesman and he said, ‘I’ve been trying to get him.’
“I’m very disappointed. We didn’t deserve that. Fair play to Tyrone on staying up and good luck to them. There’s no gripes with them whatsoever. But it seems to me that when you’re on the bottom they like to keep you there and that was evident throughout the game there.
“I’m very disappointed, yes, but I’m very proud of the lads, they hurled their hearts out there today. They did the county proud and now we’ve the championship against Monaghan to look forward to in two weeks time in Brewster. We’ll dust ourselves off and prepare for that, that’s all we can do.”
In truth, it’s a game Fermanagh should never have had to play, having already won the division 3B title against Longford.
“It’s absurd we’re in this position,” said McCusker. “We won a national title and got the cup a couple of weeks ago and now we’re still where we are. That’ just the way it is, but I’d like to thank our players for the massive effort they’re putting in and long may it continue. Tyrone are a very good team, but we’re in no way inferior to them or any team in that division.”
On the plus side, that tough 80 minutes of hurling is just the tonic as Fermanagh prepare for their Nicky Rackard meeting with Monaghan.
“It’s very sore at the minute, but I’ll tell you they battled every bit of the way,” said McCusker. “We missed three goals out there today and how they stayed out I don’t know, other days they might have gone in. Their keeper was good, their full back line was good and your man Casey was very very good. But look, what they have we have. There’s an abundance of talent there and a lot of work being put in by small bunch of people and maybe they don’t always get the recognition they deserve.”