Fermanagh avoid relegation in draw with Tyrone

Fermanagh avoid relegation in draw with Tyrone
Fermanagh's Barry Mulroney with Tyrone's Barry Tierney in action today. Picture: Inpho

Fermanagh 0-12 Tyrone 1-9

By Francis Mooney

Fermanagh carved out the point they needed to avoid relegation to Division Three, while Tyrone finished their programme unbeaten, despite dropping points in their last two games.

Ronan O’Neill’s late free denied the Erne men a win over their Ulster rivals, but Pete McGrath’s men were happy to play for a draw in the closing stages, when they held possession to guarantee their survival.

Tomas Corrigan eased Fermanagh into an early lead, and they restored the advantage through wing back Damian Kelly, after centre back Rory Brennan had capped a surging run with a point.

Tyrone created a glorious goal chance with Colm Cavanagh’s long punt, but older brother Sean was unable to convert, blazing his shot wide.

But the Red Hands did hit the net in the tenth minute, wing back Barry Tierney making the incisive run to collect Richie Donnelly’s pass and rifle his shot low to the net.

Mickey Harte’s men pushed ahead with scores from Darren McCurry and Ronan O’Neill, to lead by 1-2 to 0-3 at the end of the opening quarter.

Tomas Corrigan, with two points to his name, and the only Erne forward to have scored, was black-carded in the 24th minute for hauling down Hugh Pat McGeary, but Tyrone also lost a key player to a black card, Sean Cavanagh dismissed four minutes later.

But it was the Erne men who coped better with their setback, hitting three of the last four points of the first half, with Sean Quigley, who had been playing extremely deep, hitting two, and Paul McCusker also on target.

Tyrone led by 1-4 to 0-6 at the interval, but Fermanagh went back in front for the first time since the second minute when Ryan Lyons landed a delightful point from wide on the left, before Quigley converted another free.

Both sides created goal chances with fluent moves, but Tyrone sub Mark Bradley and Fermanagh midfielder Barry Mulrone both shot wide.

But with Eoin Donnelly and Ryan Jones, along with Barry Mulrone, getting on top in the battle for possession around midfield, and Damian Kelly and Marty O’Brien pushing forward at every opportunity, the Erne men forged ahead with scores from Lyons, Daniel Teague and Donnelly.

Three points clear going into the final 15 minutes, they now had their fate very much in their own hands, but the Red Hands fought back to go level through Tiernan McCann.

Substitute Pat Cadden edged Pete McGrath’s side back in front, and despite being hauled back by Ronan O’Neill, they were happy to play a possession game and hold on for a precious point.

Fermanagh: C Snow, M Jones, C Cullen, M O’Brien, D McCusker, J McMahon, D Kelly (0-1), E Donnelly (0-1), B Mulrone, P McCusker (0-1), R Jones, R Lyons (0-2), D Teague (0-1), S Quigley (0-3, 2f), T Corrigan (0-2, 1f).

Subs: R Corrigan for Corrigan (BC, 24), C Flaherty for Lyons (52), A Breen for McCusker (55), P Cadden (0-1)for Teague (58)

Tyrone: M O’Neill, A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron, B Tierney (1-0), R Brennan (0-1), HP McGeary, C Cavanagh, M Donnelly, P McNulty, R O’Neill (0-2, 1f), R Donnelly (0-2), D McCurry (0-1, f), S Cavanagh, C McAliskey.

Subs: M Bradley (0-1, f) for S Cavanagh (BC 28), T McCann (0-1) for McGeary (40), N Sludden (0-1) for McCurry (44), C Clarke for McNulty (54)

Referee: A Nolan (Wicklow)

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