After a sloppy first-half, at the end of which they led by a single point having been wind assisted, Fermanagh delivered a splendid closing effort. Centre-forward Ryan Jones, who switched to midfield after the 45th-minute black carding of Richard O’Callaghan, took command, while forwards Tomas Corrigan and Sean Quigley dismantled the home full-back line.
“Our display in the closing 25 minutes was our best of the season,” said McGrath. “Now we have to go on, improve on that, and take it into the next round. We kicked 19 wides, missed out on a couple of goal chances, so it was satisfying in the end.”
Fermanagh took advantage of a sluggish Wexford start to race into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead, with Sean Quigley pointing them in front inside the opening minute with a huge 50 meter free. With Wexford playing in attacking bursts as they withdrew two attackers behind the ball, Donal Shanley frees kept them in touch.
It was not until the 20th minute Wexford had their opening score from play through John Tubritt.
Four minutes later the game was turned on its head. Simon Donohoe played a great ball through to Tubritt on the wing, who cut inside before placing a return pass to Donohoe who shot low across keeper Christopher Snow for a 1-5 to 0-6 lead.
The sides continued to trade points but it was an Eoin Donnolly point in additional time that helped Fermanagh to a 0-10 to 1-6 interval lead.
When Wexford went two points clear with efforts from Tubritt and Brosnan within five minutes of the restart it looked as if they were about to assume control. But it was Fermanagh who still mounted dangerous attacks as Ryan Jones saw an effort rebound off the crossbar before a Tomas Corrigan free had the sides level, 0-11 to 1-8.
But it was after midfielder Richard O’Callaghan departed Fermanagh took control. Ryan Jones assumed total control of the midfield sector and with Tomas Corrigan kicking some wonderful points both from play and frees, the northerners stormed into a 0-17 to 1-9 lead with eight minutes remaining.
Although Wexford managed to reduce the deficit with points from Tubritt and sub Shane Roche it was Fermanagh who re-established control, finishing with points from Corrigan, free, and Richard Breen, to advance into the next round draw.
“We certainly improved on our league form but it was still not good enough,” reflected Wexford manager David Power.
“We gave ourselves every chance, only a point behind at the break, turning over with the wind, going a point ahead early in the second half, but we failed to push on. We are a young side and our lack of experience was quite evident there today,” he added.
T Corrigan (0-9, 5 frees); S Quigley (0-4, 2 frees); A Breen, E Donnelly (0-2 each); B Mulrone, R Corrigan (0-1 each)
S Donohoe (1-0); D Shanley (0-4 frees); J Tubritt (0-3); B Brosnan (0-2); K O’Grady, S Roche (0-1 each)
A Masterson; J Rossiter, N Rossiter, J Wadding; B Malone, S Byrne, S Donohoe; C Kehoe, D Waters; K O’Grady, A Flynn, E Nolan; D Shanley, B Brosnan, J Tubritt
P J Banville for Byrne (46); K Butler for Flynn (50); S Roche for Shanley (58); R Tierney for O’Grady (62); P Murphy for Masterson (inj). (62)
C Snow; M Jones, C Cullen, M O’Brien; D McCusker, J McMahon, A Breen; E Donnelly, R O’Callaghan; B Mulrone, R Jones, P McCusker; R Corrigan, S Quigley, T Corrigan.
C McManus for Jones (inj. ht); C Flaherty for O’Callaghan (B.C. 45); J Duffy for McCusker (58); D Kelly for D McCusker (72)
E Kinsella (Laois)