Fermanagh deliver against poor Donegal

Fermanagh 0-10 Donegal 0-6

Fermanagh 0-10 Donegal 0-6

Fermanagh finally delivered on the championship stage, but they know they still have to prove themselves against much tougher opposition than Donegal provided at Enniskillen.

In the end, the Erne men made it through with four points to spare, in spite of their own wastefulness.

They shot 13 wides, many of them from scoreable positions, and it was only Donegal's lack of direction and sparsity of options which prevented manager Brian McEniff from making a winning return to the big-time.

Fermanagh had immense performances from midfielders Paul Brewster and Martin McGrath, while full back Barry Owens gave a masterful defensive performance, with Kieran Gallagher a solid figure at the heart of the defence.

Fermanagh could have had a goal inside the opening minute when Ronan McCabe cracked the ball against the base of the post, before gathering the rebound to open the scoring.

But with John Haran running strongly at the Erne defence, Donegal quickly asserted themselves, and eased in front through Brian Roper and two Adrian Sweeney frees.

Kieran Gallagher, a rock at the heart of the Fermanagh defence, and all-action midfielder Martin McGrath, helped the home side to dominate for much of the half, but some woeful shooting, which saw them chalk up eight wides to Donegal's one, cost them the comfortable cushion their approach play deserved.

A wonderful Raymond Gallagher points lifted the spirits of Dominic Corrigan's side, but time and again they failed to press home the advantage.

Donegal suffered a blow when ace attacker Brendan Devenney limped out of the game with a knee injury after just 12 minutes, and it was left to Sweeney to shoulder the attacking responsibility, hitting all but one of his side's first half scores from frees.

Sweeney and Haran crafted a goal chance, but substitute Johnny McCaffrey sent his shot crashing against the crossbar, before Fermanagh countered for Ronan McCabe to open up a 0-6 to 0-4 interval lead.

Donegal could never find a measure of fluency after the break, and managed just two points in the second half, from Sweeney and substitute Niall McFadden.

Fermanagh, on the other hand, made light of the loss of attacker Colm Bradley, sent off after picking up a second booking, but with Raymond Gallagher directing operations and picking off points, they grew in confidence.

Full forward Stephen Maguire cut in from the corner flag to shoot a superb score, and Fermanagh were never going to lose after that.

Donegal finished in disarray, and they too were reduced to 14 men when Brian Roper was booked for the second time.

Fermanagh: Ronan Gallagher, N Cox, B Owens, M Lilley, R McCloskey K Gallagher, S McDermott, P Brewster, M McGrath, C Bradley, Raymond Gallagher (0-4, 2f), R Johnston, R McCabe (0-4, 2f), S Maguire (0-2), R Keenan.

Subs: J Sherry for Johnston, C O'Reilly for Keenan.

Donegal: T Blake, D Diver, E Reddin, N McCreadie, R Sweeney, B Monaghan, K Cassidy, J Gildea, J McGuinness, C Toye, M Hegarty, J Haran, A Sweeney (0-4, 3f), B Devenney, B Roper (0-1).

Subs: J McCaffrey for Devenney, J Ruane for McCaffrey, N McGinley for Cassidy, C McFadden (0-1) for Toye, S McDermott for Haran.

Referee: S McCormack (Meath)

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