Fermanagh 1-8 Down 2-10
Down set up an Ulster SFC semi-final clash with Monaghan as they eased to a five-point win over 14-man Fermanagh at Brewster Park.
Peter Canavan’s championship debut as Erne manager got off to a disastrous start when attacker Daryl Keenan was sent off after just eight minutes, and his Erne side was chasing the game thereafter.
Fermanagh never looked like causing an upset, and were somewhat flattered to finish the game just five points in arrears.
Down, who had 11 players on the scoresheet, will approach their next assignment with confidence, having displayed composure on the ball and vital experience in testing situations.
Fermanagh suffered a massive blow after just eight minutes when wing forward Keenan was sent off on a straight red card, and their challenge never got going.
It took Down some time to settle to their task, and it wasn’t until the 12th minute that Donal O’Hare, a late replacement for Arthur McConville, slotted over their opening score.
Fermanagh worked hard to keep themselves in the game, and went level when Daniel Kille converted a 40 metre free.
But it was the visitors who always carried the attacking threat, and they almost had a goal when Aiden Brannigan was sent clear by O’Hare, but Ronan Gallagher pulled off a superb save.
Down did get the goal they had been threatening in the 21st minute, when O’Hare seized a loose ball to finish to the net from close range.
A string of points followed as the Mourne men established control, going eight points clear.
Full back Brendan McArdle got his name on the scoresheet, Ambrose Rogers sliced over a long range point and Conor Maginn also hit the target.
Damian Kelly and Kille pulled back points for Fermanagh, but at the break they faced a 1-6 to 0-3 deficit.
They were right back in it when Damian Kelly appeared unmarked in acres of space to collect Eamon Maguire’s quickly taken free kick to beat ‘keeper Brendan McVeigh with a low shot in the 46th minute.
Down responded with points from Daniel McCartan and substitute Kevin Duffin, and killed the game off with Conor Maginn’s 57th minute goal. The corner forward wriggled his way past goalkeeper Gallagher and two defenders to roll the ball into an empty net and effectively put an end to Fermanagh’s brave challenge.
Darren O’Hagan became the third member of Down’s full back line to score, and while Fermanagh tagged on late points from substitute Seamus Quigley (2) and Tomas Corrigan, it was merely damage limitation for them at that stage
Fermanagh: Damian Kelly 1-1, Daniel Kille 0-3 (2f), S Quigley 0-2 (2f), T Corrigan, P Ward 0-1 each.
Down: D O’Hare 1-1, C Laverty 1-0, C Maginn, A Carr (f), A Rogers, K King, K McKernan, D McCartan, B McArdle, D O’Hagan, K Duffin 0-1 each.
FERMANAGH: R Gallagher, N Bogue, B Owens, N McGovern, D Kelly, B Cox, B Mulrone, S Lyons, M McGrath, D Keenan, E Donnelly, B Og Maguire, T Corrigan, D Kille, T McElroy.
Subs: E Maguire for B Maguire, C Quigley for Cox, R Jones for McGrath, S Quigley for McElroy, P Ward for Kille
DOWN: B McVeigh, D McCartan, B McArdle, D O’Hagan, A Branagan, K McKernan, C Garvey, A Rogers, K King, D Hughes, M Poland, A Carr, C Laverty, A McConville, C Maginn.
Subs: K Duffin for Carr, E McCartan for Poland, A McConville for Laverty, D Rooney for Rogers, D Turley for Branagan
Referee: S Doyle (Wexford).