Dramatic goal at the death sends Fermanagh into first Ulster Football final in decade

Fermanagh 1-8 Monaghan 0-10

A sucker punch right at the death dealt Monaghan a deadly blow and sent Fermanagh into raptures and through to a first Ulster SFC final in 10 years.

It was a sensational end to an otherwise forgettable Healy Park encounter dogged by a lack of ambition, as skipper Eoin Donnelly rose high to punch home a stunning goal deep into stoppage time.

The Erne county has never won a provincial title, but their dreaming among the lakes that this could be their season to make history, as they await the winners of the other semi-final between Donegal and Down.

Fermanagh’s possession game frustrated Monaghan throughout the opening half, as they moved forward patiently in search of the openings that would see them mine precious scores.

They went ahead with a delightful Aidan Breen score, and a Sean Quigley free doubled the lead inside the opening 10 minutes, and Malachy O’Rourke’s men were having serious trouble getting their hands on the ball.

In a rare opportunity, Darren Hughes saw a fisted effort come back off an upright, and goalkeeper Rory Beggan was off target with a long range free.

Breen landed another, this time off his left foot, and it wasn’t until the 17th minute that Conor McManus finally got the Farney men off the mark from a free.

However, Fermanagh were winning the lion’s share of broken ball around midfield, and two more Quigley efforts from placed balls made it 0-5 to 0-1.

In the latter stages of the half, however, Monaghan got more width into their game, creating pockets of space for Karl O’Connell to charge into, winning the frees that McManus steered over to narrow the gap to a single point.

But Fermanagh came again in stoppage time for Conall Jones to thump over a huge point to send them in with a 0-6 to 0-4 interval lead.

Monaghan began to win the battle for breaking ball in the second half, but continued to struggle to break Fermanagh spirit, even through the men in green were clearly tiring.

It took them almost eight minutes to narrow the gap, a turnover around midfield sending Ryan McAnespie in to score.

And Malachy O’Rourke’s side went in front for the first time in the 59th minute when full-back Drew Wylie drove over a long range point.

A fifth converted free from McManus eased them two ahead, but substitute Tomas Corrigan kept Fermanagh ahead with a couple of difficult frees.

Monaghan had quality to brign off the bench as well, with Colin Walshe hitting a superb point, and they had managed to built up a two points lead two as the game slipped into stoppage time.

Then came the remarkable drama that gave this game its sensational climax. Ryan Jones crossed from the right for Donnelly, now in at full forward in a last throw of the dice, to rise and punch to the net past Rory Beggan.

Monaghan: R Beggan; K Duffy, D Wylie (0-2), R Wylie; D Mone, V Corey, F Kelly (0-1); K O’Connell, D Hughes; K Hughes, N Kearns, D Ward; R McAnespie (0-1), J McCarron, C McManus (0-5, 5f).

Subs: C McCarthy for Ward (41), D Malone for McCarron (41), C Walshe (0-1) for Kelly (50), O Duffy for K Hughes (54), C Boyle for Mone (63), S Carey for Corey (BC, 73)

Fermanagh: P Cadden; K Connor, C Cullen, M Jones; B Mulrone, J McMahon, L Cullen; E Donnelly (1-0), R Jones; P McCusker, D McCusker, A Breen (0-2); Sean Quigley (0-3, 3f), C Jones (0-1), Ciaran Corrigan.

Subs: D Teague for M Jones (43), R Corrigan for P McCusker (50), T Corrigan (0-2, 2f) for Quigley (54), T Clarke for C Corrigan (59), R Lyons for C Jones (62),

Referee: C Lane (Cork).

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