Fermanagh 1-12 Antrim 0-9
Fermanagh scored a comfortable win over Antrim in their Ulster Football Championship preliminary round clash with an out-classed Antrim side, setting up a quarter-final clash with Donegal, writes Francis Mooney.
In front of a crowd of 9,124 at sun-drenched Brewster Park, the Erne men illustrated the gap between NFL Divisions Two and Four with a dominant first half display, but in truth, they encountered merely token resistance from a Saffron side which struggled to make any impact on a game played in perfect conditions.
Antrim did put the hosts under pressure in the second half, but lacked the firepower to threaten to overturn their opponents, and Fermanagh killed off the game with a late Sean Quigley goal.
Tomas Corrigan laid on a sparkling attacking display for last year’s All-Ireland quarter-finalists, kicking nine points, including some brilliant placed ball conversions.
The pre-match loss of Niall McKeever due to injury left Antrim with a midfield deficit, which the home side exploited through Eoin Donnelly and Ryan Jones.
Antrim did get themselves into some prime scoring positions early on, but their finishing was of poor quality.
Fermanagh, on the other hand, had Tomas Corrigan in top place-kicking form, his three conversions inside the opening five minutes helping his side build confidence and momentum.
They had gone five points clear, with tidy point from play from Corrigan and Aidan Breen, by the time the Saffons produced some attacking flair, Michael McCann sending Brian Neeson through to fire in a shot which was superbly saved by Chris Snow.
Neeson converted the resultant ’45 to give the visitors their first score in the 22nd minute
Both sides operated with sweepers, but the Erne men were more adept at finding channels, the most spectacular of which saw Corrigan steer two marvellous sideline kicks between the posts in the space of a minute.
Mickey Jones and Marty O’Brien stifled an Antrim attack which lacked ideas, and by the halfway stage, they were still looking for their first score from play, trailing by 0-9 to 0-2.
It took Fermanagh 13 minutes to get their first score of the second half, but Corrigan was back on track with another couple of points.
Tomas McCann and Mark Sweeney were on target for the Saffrons, and a splendid John Carron score narrowed the gap to six.
There were encouraging signs for Antrim when Neeson collected and turned his marker, only to smash his shot into the side netting.
Fermanagh were on the back foot, with Kevin Niblock and Michael McCann cajoling their team-mates forward, and Tomas McCann and substitute Ryan Murray nailing the scores that trimmed the gap back to four with ten minutes to play.
Corrigan settled Lakeland nerves with his ninth point, and Sean Quigley sealed the win for the home side, collecting Paul McCusker’s pass to slide the ball low beyond Chris Kerr for the game’s only goal in the 69th minute.
Fermanagh: C Snow, M Jones, C Cullen, M O’Brien, D McCusker (0-1), J McMahon, B Mulrone, E Donnelly, A Breen (0-1), P McCusker, R Jones, R Lyons, R Corrigan, S Quigley (1-1, 0-1f), T Corrigan (0-9, 7f).
Subs: C Flaherty for Lyons, D Teague for R Corrigan, D Kelly for Breen, P Cadden for P McCusker.
Antrim: C Kerr, K O’Boyle, R Johnston, N Delargey, P McBride, M Johnston, J Lavery, M McCann, J Carron (0-1), M Fitzpatrick, K Niblock, M Sweeney (0-1), B Neeson (0-2, 1f, 1 ’45), C Murray, T McCann (0-3, 1f).
Subs: S McVeigh for Murray, D McAleese for Laverty, R Murray (0-1) for Fitzpatrick, S Burke (0-1) for Neeson
Referee: S Hurson (Tyrone).