Replay specialists Armagh victorious again

Armagh 0-16 Fermanagh 1-8

Armagh 0-16 Fermanagh 1-8

Armagh maintained their phenomenal record in replays with a power-packed second half performance which blew Fermanagh's challenge away and booked a sixth Ulster final performance in seven years for the Orchard men.

Experienced warriors such as Paul McGrane, Ronan Clarke and Martin O'Rourke raised the Armagh game in a resurgent second period, bringing them to within touching distance of a third successive provincial title, while for Fermanagh, it's another flirtation with the qualifiers, but an approach that has served them well in the past.

Fermanagh finished the game with 14 men, after defender Shane McDermott received a straight red card following a clash with Mackin.

Fermanagh's nervy start appeared to justify the pre-match notion that replay specialists would power their way to another win, and that the minnows had once again missed their big chance.

When McConville, Paddy McKeever, Malacy Mackin and Ciaran McKeever all blasted over impressive scores, the Erne men were struggling, their defence in danger of being overrun by a focused Orchard side.

Having managed just one point in the opening quarter of an hour, from a Tom Brewster free, Fermanagh suddenly decided it was time to show their opponents what they had to offer.

But the Erne men clicked into spectacular action. Mark Little was in inspired form, hitting three magical points off the highly rated Andy Mallon before Enda McNulty was assigned to try and contain the Lisnaskea flyer.

By the half-hour mark, the Lakelanders had moved into a 0-6 to 0-4 lead and cracks were beginning to appear in the Armagh armour.

They did swing the game back in their favour for Paddy McKeever and Ronan Clarke to swing over huge points from wide on either wing, but with Hugh Brady and Shane McDermott pressing forward from the back with purpose, Fermanagh continued to threaten.

It was the Ulster champions, however, who finished the half strongest, Paddy McKeever tapping over a free to ease them into a slender 0-7 to 0-6 lead.

Points from McConville and Clarke saw them open out a three points lead, but Fermanagh struck for a goal through Ciaran O'Reilly.

Little once again made the running, corner back Ryan McCluskey was up in support, and when O'Reilly slipped in behind marker Francie Bellew, the final pas was erfect, the finish from five yards lethal.

There was no stopping an Orchard side in the final 15 minutes, and scores from O'Rourke, Clarke, McDonnell and McConville killed off the Erne challenge, before Aaron Kernan became the eighth Armagh player to get his name on the scoresheet.

Fermanagh finished the game with 14 men, after defender Shane McDermott received a straight red card following a clash with Mackin.

Armagh: P Hearty, A Mallon, F Bellew, E McNulty, A Kernan (0-1), C McKeever (0-1), P Duffy, K McGeeney, P McGrane, P McKeever (0-3, 1 free), S Kernan, M Mackin (0-1), S McDonnell (0-2), R Clarke (0-3), O McConville (0-4, 3 frees).

Subs: M O'Rourke (0-1) for S Kernan, T McEntee for P McKeever, A O'Rourke for Bellew

Fermanagh: C Breen, R McCluskey, B Owens, S Goan, P Sherry, H Brady, S McDermott, L McBarron, M Murphy, M Little (0-3), T Brewster (0-2, 2 frees), E Maguire (0-1), C Bradley, S Doherty, C O'Reilly (1-1).

Subs: J Sherry (0-1) for McBarron, R Johnston for P Sherry, R Keenan for Bradley, M McGrath for McDermott, McDermott for Murphy, J McGurn for O'Reilly.

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