Derry 1-18 Fermanagh 1-10
Derry cruised to an eight points win over Fermanagh to book their place in the Ulster SFC quarter-final, but their winning margin could, and should, have been much greater at Celtic Park.
At one stage, the Oak Leafers were 16 points ahead of an Erne side that had six championship debutants on board.
It has been a turbulent season for Fermanagh, with a host of players walking away from the squad, but their resurgent second half display will give them encouragement as they look ahead to the Qualifiers.
Now Derry will turn their focus to next weekend’s clash of Armagh and Down, the winners of which will be their semi-final opponents.
Terry O’Flanagan slotted over an early Fermanagh free, but they were soon on the back foot as Derry swept forward in waves of attack.
With the wind in their backs, they established a platform in midfield through Joe Diver, Michael Friel and Enda Muldoon, and started to pile on the scores.
The first major blow came in the ninth minute, when Eoin Bradley fired in a goal from an acute angle, and that score opened the floodgates.
Excellent long range points from Gerard O’Kane, Sean Leo McGoldrick and Conleith Gilligan helped them build up a comfortable lead, and Bradley almost had a second goal, but his screamer was deflected over the bar by Barry Mulrone, Fermanagh’s best player.
Enda Muldoon, Charlie Kielt and O’Kane all tagged on points, and the Oak Leafers were strolling, but for a brief spell when Fermanagh created a couple of goal chances.
Martin O’Brien shot wide, and Derry goalkeeper Danny Devlin pulled off a superb save, pushing Brian Og Maguire’s screamer onto the crossbar.
Derry’s 13 first half scores all came from play, and from nine different players, including four defenders.
Derry held a commanding 1-12 to 0-2 interval lead, and stretched the advantage to 16 points early in the second half.
But Fermanagh hit back with a goal, a superb finish from an unlikely source, corner back John Woods on 45 minutes.
The Erne men enjoyed a spell of dominance, cutting the gap through Ryan Jones, Chris O’Brien and Daniel Kille.
Kille, John O’Flanagan and Jones won an abundance of possession around midfield, and there were further scores from Jones, Mulrone and Kille.
Derry managed just two points in the final 25 minutes, during which they were out-scored by 1-7 to 0-2, but they were never in danger.
Derry: D Devlin, M Bateson (0-2), K McCloy, D McBride, G O’Kane (0-2), C Kielt (0-1), SL McGoldrick (0-1), J Diver (0-2), M Friel, M Lynch (0-1), C O’Boyle, E McGuckin, E Muldoon (0-2), E Bradley (1-4), C Gilligan (0-3).
Subs: B Og McAlary for Muldoon, PJ McCloskey for Friel, C McGoldrick for O’Boyle, K McGuckin for Kielt, D Mulholland for E McGuckin
Fermanagh: J McGrath, J Woods (1-0), B Owens, M Jones, M O’Brien, H Brady, B Mulrone (0-1), K Cosgrove, R Jones (0-2), T O’Flanagan (0-1, f), B Og Maguire, P Ward, T Corrigan, D Kille (0-5, 3f, 1 ’45), S Quigley.
Subs: J O’Flanagan for T O’Flanagan, C O’Brien (0-1) for Ward, N Cassidy for Brady
Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan)