Fermanagh triumph over Armagh with gutsy display

Fermanagh 0-12 Armagh 0-7

Fermanagh scored a rare Ulster SFC win over Armagh with a gutsy and disciplined display at Brewster Park to set up a semi-final clash with either Tyrone or Fermanagh.

The Orchard had to play virtually the entire second half with 14 men after midfielder Niall Grimley received a straight red card, and they failed to deal with the handicap against an Erne side that stuck rigidly to Rory Gallagher’s carefully crafted game plan.

Andrew Murnin of Armagh in action against Lee Cullen of Fermanagh during the Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final match. Pic: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

The return of Seamus Quigley to the fold was a big plus throughout the National League, and he came up trumps once again, hitting six points to make a huge contribution to a morale-boosting win.

Fermanagh’s efforts to catch their opponents cold almost paid off when Quigley got in for a point blank shot at goal, after an effort from his brother Sean had come back off an upright, but ‘keeper Blaine Hughes spread himself to deny the big Roslea man.

Rory Gallagher’s side ran at an uncertain Orchard defence, finding pockets of space to craft scoring chances, and Declan McCusker found himself unopposed as he floated over a point to add to Seamus Quigley’s converted free.

Mark Shields angled over Armagh’s opener, but again the Erne men replied on the double, with Lee Cullen driving from deep to set up a point for Barry Mulrone, and a superb Ryan Jones effort made it 0-4 to 0-1 by the 11th minute.

Armagh ran into lines of green shirts as they probed for openings, but Ethan Rafferty’s class saw him thump over a brilliant score, as well as a 48 metre free.

However, the visitors struggled to find ways to unlock Fermanagh’s well organised defence, and scored just once in the second quarter, a Gavin McParland free.

Andrew Murnin of Armagh in action against Kane Connor, left, and Che Cullen of Fermanagh. Pic: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Fermanagh, with Declan McCusker running strongly from deep at a nervous defence, was always a threat, and despite uncertainty in the Armagh ranks, the men in green were unable to profit to any significant degree.

Jones fired over his second, thanks to the industry of his midfield partner Eoin Donnelly, and a Seamus Quigley free sent Fermanagh in with a 0-6 to 0-4 interval lead.

Armagh suffered a severe blow inside two minutes of the restart when Grimley received a straight red card for an elbow into the face of Sean Quigley, and they went further behind when the Quigley brothers both split the posts.

Lee Cullen pushed forward to pick off a point and a 0-9 to 0-4 lead by the 45th minute, as the home side continued to impose themselves on the contest, using the flanks to stretch their short-handed opponents.

Now behind by six, Armagh did manage to turn the tide briefly, winning the frees that skipper Rory Grugan, unable to start due to injury, converted.

But they were dogged by a series of bad wides, and failed to score from play after the 17th minute of the first half.

Fermanagh had Che Cullen, Kane Connor and James McMahon in defiant mood at the back, and having survived a spell of strong pressure with minimal damage, they went forward again for Seamus Quigley to punch over his only point from play, before sealing it with another free.

Fermanagh: P Cadden; K Connor, C Cullen, M Jones; B Mulrone (0-1), J McMahon, L Cullen (0-1); E Donnelly, R Jones (0-2); P McCusker, D McCusker (0-1), A Breen; Sean Quigley (0-1), C Jones, Seamus Quigley (0-6, 5f).

Subs: C Corrigan for Sean Quigley (56), D Teague for P McCusker (63), E Maguire for Breen (66), C McManus for Connor (71), T Clarke for C Jones (74)

Armagh: B Hughes; P Burns, A McKay, B Donaghy; C Mackin, G McCabe, M Shields (0-1); C Vernon, B Crealey; R McShane, A Forker, N Grimley; E Rafferty (0-2, 1f), A Murnin, G McParland (0-1).

Subs: N Rowland for Crealey (30), J McElroy for Mackin (43), R Grugan (0-3, 3f) for McParland (46), J Hall for McShane (50), E McGeown for Rafferty (61)

Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon).

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