Tyrone shake off Fermanagh fright

Tyrone 1-13 Fermanagh 0-12

Tyrone 1-13 Fermanagh 0-12

Battling Fermanagh gave the All-Ireland champions the fright of their lives at Clones, where they went down fighting, and with pride very much intact.

Given no chance of even coming close to the might of Tyrone, the Erne men played out of their skins, and threatened to cause the upset of the season before experience and an edge in fitness combined to drag the Red Hands out of a precarious situation.

Charlie Mulgrew's side went in level at the break, and briefly took the lead early in the second half, but they were unable to drive home the advantage.

In the end, a dubious penalty, despatched by manager Mickey Harte's son Mark after just five minutes, proved so valuable to a Tyrone side which must now indulge in some serious self-examination ahead of the Ulster Championship semi-final against Donegal on Sunday week.

Tyrone got the boost of that early goal, and Fermanagh supporters were already fearing the worst.

They led by four with less than five minutes played, and the scene was set for a dominant Red Hand display.

But the Erne men showed heart and passion as they battled their way back into the game.

Martin McGrath was giving it everything in midfield, Damien Kelly was probing from the back, and the lively running of Colm Bradley and Mark Little was causing considerable problems to an unsettled Tyrone defence.

Harte and Kevin Hughes opened out a 1-3 to 0-2 lead, but the final 10 minutes of the half belonged to the bravehearts of Fermanagh.

Stephen Maguire knocked over a free, and there were further scores from McGrath, to level, and Kelly, equalising again after Brian McGuigan had regained the lead for the All-Ireland champions.

At the break it was all square at 1-4 to 0-7, and Fermanagh went ahead with two converted frees by full forward Maguire, as their supporters in the 17,344-strong crowd went wild.

But the Red Hands were back in front by the 10th minute of the half, after Cavanagh, now operating at full forward, hit the target, and Owen Mulligan converted two frees.

Tyrone appeared to be back in the comfort zone, but lost their momentum when each player had a man sent off.

Fermanagh defender Hugh Brady was dismissed along with Tyrone attacker Brian McGuigan, both for second bookings.

Maguire and James Sherry brought Fermanagh back into contention, and Tinney kept them in the game with a superb save from Stephen O'Neill.

But the introduction of Gerard Cavlan, his probing from deep and clever diagonal deliveries extremely effective, swung the balance back in favour of Mickey Hartes's side.

Mulligan sliced over a beauty from wide on the right, and when corner back Ciaran Gourley pressed forward to fist a point, Tyrone were five to the good, with just three minutes to play, and they held on for victory.

Tyrone: J Devine, R McMenamin, C Gormley, C Gourley (0-1), J McMahon, G Devlin, P Jordan, C Holmes, S Cavanagh (0-1), O Mulligan (0-5, 3f), B McGuigan (0-1), S O'Neill (0-1), M Harte (1-2, pen, 1f), K Hughes (0-2), C McCullagh. G Cavlan for McCullagh, M Coleman for Holmes

Fermanagh: N Tinney, N Bogue, B Owens, H Brady, R Johnston, S McDermott, D Kelly (0-1), M McGrath (0-2), L McBarron, E Maguire (0-1), J Sherry (0-2), M Little (0-1), C O'Reilly, S Maguire (0-5, 5f), C Bradley. Subs: P Sherry for Owens, M Murphy for O'Reilly, D McGrath for Bradley

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