Fermanagh 0-14 Waterford 2-10
Michelle Ryan scored 1-6 against Fermanagh this afternoon as beaten 2010 finalists Waterford qualified for the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies intermediate football final on September 30.
The Munster champions edged past the 2009 runners-up by two points in an entertaining semi-final at sun-kissed St Brendan’s Park in Birr.
It was Ballymacarbry star Ryan who led the line brilliantly for Waterford at centre forward, scoring three crucial points from play in the second half after notching 1-3 in the first half.
Ryan has won 11 county and three All-Ireland club medals with her club and the 26-year-old would dearly love to add an All-Ireland county medal to her collection.
Waterford, who led by two points at half-time, were by far the better side in the second half and thoroughly deserved a victory that sets up an All-Ireland final showdown with Armagh.
They were five points clear – 2-9 to 0-10 – midway through the second half before full-back Gráinne Enright was sin-binned.
But Fermanagh’s numerical advantage was short-lived as sub Danica Beattie suffered a similar fate in the 48th minute.
Waterford, with the breeze advantage in the second half, looked on course for a comfortable victory but Fermanagh made a real fight of it in the closing stages.
The Erne County, inspired by Caroline Little, were back to within two points with three minutes remaining, before Waterford played keep ball to run the clock down and see the game out.
At half-time, they led by 2-4 to 0-8 and it was experienced stars Michelle McGrath and Ryan who kicked late first half points to hand the Déise a crucial advantage.
The sides had been level three times in the opening half but wind-assisted Fermanagh had to work harder for their scores as Waterford’s support play opened up the opposition defence on more than one occasion.
Fermanagh led by 0-3 to 0-2 before Shona Curran scored Waterford’s opening goal in the 13th minute, finishing off a handpassing move with a clinical close-range finish.
Caroline Little and Noelle Connolly hit back with Fermanagh scores to tie the game before Waterford scored a second goal in the 17th minute.
Aileen Wall was fouled and from the resulant penalty, Ryan stepped forward and beat Roisin Gleeson with a powerful strike.
That score handed Waterford a three-point lead – 2-2 to 0-5 – but three unanswered points tied the scores again for a Fermanagh side reduced to 14 players following the sin-binning of Tara Little.
The centre back’s absence allowed Waterford to push forward before the break to open up a narrow half-time lead.
Fermanagh: C Little 0-6 (5f), S Little & N Connolly 0-2 each, R O’Reilly, M Connolly, A Moane & L McFrederick 0-1 each.
Waterford: M Ryan 1-6 (1-0 pen, 0-2f), S Curran 1-0, M McGrath, L Wall, A Wall & H Landers 0-1 each.
FERMANAGH: R Gleeson; R O’Reilly, O Reihill, C Woods; M Connolly, T Little, S Hamilton; A Moane, D Chapman; N McManus, N Connolly, A McBrien; S Little, L McFrederick, C Little.
Subs: D Beattie for McManus (43), B Brogan for Hamilton (52), S Woods for McFrederick (56).
WATERFORD: A Jordan; A Landers, G Enright, N Dunphy; R Tobin, G Kenneally, K McGrath; M McGrath, E Power; H Landers, M Ryan, L Wall; A Wall, S Curran, M Wall.
Subs: P Fitzgerald for M Wall (56).
Referee: J Flood (Wexford).