Fermanagh minor girls produced an excellent hour in Owenbeg on Saturday to overturn Derry in their championship opener.
The Fermanagh girls trailed by two at the interval but showed great character and desire to battle back and come out on top by the final whistle.
The victory was nothing more than they deserved as they worked tirelessly with a hunger and desire that the Derry side couldn’t match in the end.
The hosts got off to the perfect start with a point inside the opening minute by Aine McAllister but Erin Tierney replied moments later with a pointed free for Fermanagh.
Derry then registered the games first goal when a dipping Anna Donnelly shot found the net. McAllister pushed her side four clear on six minutes but Fermanagh settled and began to take a grip of the contest.
Ciara McGarrigle cut the deficit to three with a great free from the left before Fermanagh levelled proceedings with a fabulous team goal.
Alannah Maguire made a brilliant turnover on the defensive 45, she found Orla Leonard who had Sinead Barrett off the shoulder driving down the middle. Barrett moved forward and slipped the ball into Tierney who made no mistake with a low drilled effort into the bottom corner on 13 minutes to leave it 1-2 a piece.
The game took a turn in Derry’s favour on 17 minutes when Fermanagh captain Laoise O’Keefe was harshly yellow carded.
Within a minute of the numerical advantage Derry had a second goal, a penalty dispatched by Niamh O’Donnell.
Fermanagh responded well as they worked possession the length of the field. Aisling Quinn’s kickout found Alannah Maguire and Fermanagh broke in a wave. Ciara McGarrigle, Niamh Boyle, Ellie Carrigan all invloved before McGarrigle fed corner back Niamh Smyth who had made a blindside run and she landed a point.
Derry hit two points to lead by five, while Fermanagh’s Caoímhe Gallagher saw her effort at goal disallowed for square ball at this juncture.
The Erne ladies returned to the full complement of players and they finished the half well when Ciara McGarrigle flicked a dipping Tierney effort to the net to leave the half time score 2-5 to 2-3 in favour of the home side.
Fermanagh were superb from the restart showing great heart and appetite for the fight as underfoot conditions worsened in the rain.
They kept Derry to a single point in the next 22 minutes while they took control.
Tierney pointed on 34 minutes and Derry responded before Fermanagh substitute Eva Finlay McGovern rattled the net moments after her introduction.Ciara McGarrigle played a sublime cross-field ball to set Finlay McGovern through on goal.
The girls in green kept the pressure on and pinned Derry in. Áine McCarney kicked the point of the game from the left wing while McGarrigle and Tierney pushed Fermanagh’s lead out to four points with 53 minutes on the clock.
Tierney slotted over a good free with four minutes remaining to make it a five point cushion before Derry made their push for a goal.
Fermanagh defended brilliantly in the closing stages and Derry only mustered two points in reply. Following four minutes of stoppage time, the final whistle sounded giving Fermanagh a well-earned and deserved three-point win.
Fermanagh travel to Ballybofey for a 2pm throw in against Donegal this Saturday with Donegal also going into the game after a win against Down in their opener.
Fermanagh; Aisling Quinn, Aine McCarney (0-1), Katie Shannon, Niamh Smyth (0-1), Laoise O’Keefe, Alannah Maguire, Orla Leonard, Niamh Boyle, Sinead Barrett, Caoimhe Gallagher, Caoimhe Hamilton, Ellie Carrigan, Chloe McManus, Erin Tierney (1-4), Ciara McGarrigle (1-2). Subs 34mins Eva Finlay McGovern (1-0) for C.Gallagher, 37mins Cara Gray for C.Hamilton, 49mins Maeve Mulligan for E.Carrigan, 54mins Jessica Connolly for A.McCarney. Yellow Card: 16mins Laoise O’Keefe.
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