Monaghan 1-20 Fermanagh 1-11
It was a second-half cruise for Monaghan as they routed Fermanagh in an Ulster SFC preliminary round tie at Clones to set up a derby meeting with Cavan.
As Pete McGrath prepares his Erne side for the Qualifiers, he will take heart from a gutsy first-half display which saw them go level on six occasions.
But they were unable to deal with the Farney power-play which saw them score virtually at will after the break.
No less than 13 Monaghan players got their names on the scoreboard on an evening that was all about getting over a tricky first hurdle.
As to their prospects of winning back the provincial title, Malachy O’Rourke will feel he still has plenty to work on.
Monaghan suffered a blow in the seventh minute when Kieran Hughes was black-carded for dragging down Ryan Lyons, with the scores tied at 0-2 each.
Tomas Corrigan and Sean Quigley, both with frees, had traded points with Hughes and Colin Walshe, but Corrigan nudged the Erne men ahead on ten minutes.
Monaghan prospered towards the end of the opening quarter, hitting 1-2 to give themselves a measure of control.
The goal was a personal disaster for ‘keeper Tomas Treacy, whose short kick-out was intercepted, and Conor McManus picked his spot in the bottom corner.
Fermanagh’s laboured approach contrasted with a fast-moving Farney style, and breaks from deep set up a second point for Walshe and a Shane Carey score.
Drew Wylie kept Quigley quiet, but with Ryan McCluskey and Eoin Donnelly prominent in a patient Erne approach, Pete McGrath’s men roared back.
Paul McCusker’s run set up a well taken Lyons goal on 22 minutes, before Lee Cullen shot them in front.
Monaghan went 14 minutes without a score, but hit four in the closing stages of the half.
After Corrigan had levelled the scores for the sixth time, Jack McCarron and McManus steered over frees to send the home side in with a 1-8 to 1-6 interval lead.
Monaghan had a golden opportunity from a turnover to grab a second goal, but Treacy saved smartly from Conor McCarthy, and the Erne men continued to live dangerously.
They survived, however, without serious damage, to counter for Quigley to narrow the gap to a point, but Monaghan responded with two in a minute, from sub Owen Duffy and McManus, with a typically brilliant effort.
Duffy was proving a major asset to the Farney attack, stepping in again to assist in McCarron’s brilliant point as Malachy O’Rourke’s side went four clear on 47 minutes.
Duffy sent two more sailing between the posts as the Farney men shot six in the space of eight devastating minutes, and another sub, Ryan McAnespie, also put in a massive shift, getting back to execute a perfect block on Quigley.
Fermanagh were running low on energy long before the finish, and the reservoir of ideas was also diminishing, as their opponents grew in confidence
They had struck ten points on the spin by the time substitute Eddie Courtney ended a 22 minute scoreless spell for the Lakelanders, and to their credit, Fermanagh fought with pride right to the finish, with Aidan Breen landing a couple of fine scores.
Monaghan: R Beggan; F Kelly (0-1), D Wylie, R Wylie; C Walshe (0-2), V Corey, N McAdam (0-1); K Hughes (0-1), K O'Connell (0-1); G Doogan (0-1), S Carey (0-1), D Ward; C McCarthy (0-2), J McCarron (0-2, 1f), C McManus (1-3, 0-1f).
Subs: R McAnespie for Hughes (BC, 7), O Duffy (0-3) for Carey (42), D Malone (0-1) for Ward (49), K Duffy for Corey (57), D Mone (0-1) for Kelly (62), M Bannigan for McCarthy (67)
Fermanagh: T Treacy; M Jones, C Cullen, C McManus; A Breen (0-2), R McCluskey, C Murphy; E Donnelly, L Cullen (0-1); B Mulrone, R Lyons (1-0), P McCusker; K Connor, S Quigley (0-2, 1f), T Corrigan (0-5, 4f).
Ryan Jones for Connor (49), E Courtney (0-1) for Quigley (54), C Beacom for Lyons(58), D Keenan fcor McCusker (58)
Referee: D O’Mahoney (Tipperary).