Ryan Lyons scored the only two points of the final 20 minutes to guide Fermanagh to their first victory of this league campaign against a woefully below-par Kildare side at Brewster Park on Saturday.
The game played out exactly as Rory Gallagher would have wished and, in truth, Fermanagh should have won by more than the two-point margin.
Kildare, who scored just one point from play, started slowly and were 0-3 to 0-0 behind after eight minutes. A couple of Adam Tyrrell frees got them off the mark before Eoin Donnelly edged Fermanagh back ahead.
Fergal Conway then scored Kildare’s only point from play in the 13th minute after good approach play by Kevin Feely and David Hyland. Fermanagh continued to be the better side over the first-half, but only had a further Sean Quigley free in the 23rd minute to show for their efforts.
There was a better tempo to Kildare’s play in the second half and a free from Neil Flynn and a point from an offensive mark by Conway in the 50th tied the scores at 0-6 each.
That was about as good as it got for Cian O’Neill’s team though — not only did they fail to score for the remainder of the game, they struggled to create any real opportunities, finishing the game with just 12 shots on goal.
Fermanagh created the only goalscoring chance of the night in the 53rd minute, but Mark Donnellan did well to deny wing-back Ultan Kelm.
The game was crying out for a hero and it was Lyons who stood up for Fermanagh. After yet another turnover by Kildare in the final third, Lyons carried the ball from one 45 to the other before firing over in the 59th minute.
He then kicked the insurance point in injury time to send Fermanagh on to four points in the league table and inflict a major blow on Kildare’s promotion hopes.
FERMANAGH: T Treacy; J Cassidy, L Cullen, K Connor, U Kelm, J McMahon, C Corrigan; E Donnelly 0-1f, R Jones 0-1; R Lyons 0-2, D McCusker, A Breen, D McTeague, C Jones, S Quigley 0-3fs.
Subs: T Clarke for Donnelly, 20; P McCusker for Teague, 38; E McHugh for Connor, 41; S McCullion for Clarke, 46; K O’Donnell for P McCusker, 59.
KILDARE: M Donnellan; M Dempsey, M O’Grady, D Hyland, J Murray, E Doyle, K Cribbin; K Feely, A Masterson; D Slattery, F Conway 0-2 (1mark), C Hartley, A Tyrrell 0-2fs, B McCormack, N Flynn 0-2fs.
Subs: C O’Donoghue for Tyrrell, h/t; J Hyland for Hartley, h/t; T Moolick for Cribbin, 59; F Dowling for Conway, 59; P Nash for Slattery, 65.
Referee: Martin McNally (Monaghan).