Fermanagh, a small county with a big heart, showed “boundless character” to recover from a six-point half-time deficit and snatch a dramatic win in Brewster Park.
New Erne manager Ryan McMenamin had harsh words for his players at the break when they trailed Division 2 promotion favourites Roscommon by 0-9 to 0-3.
It all changed on the restart with Fermanagh playing with a greater sense of urgency and a hunger which Roscommon struggled to contain. Ciaran Corrigan kicked the winner in the 73rd minute, a minute after Ryan Jones had equalized for the home side.
“It's down to the players, we spoke to them at half time and they came through with boundless character,” said McMenamin.
“They took on board what we were saying. We can't kick the ball for them, we had faith in them to turn it around (and they did). Anthony (Cunningham) said it should have been a draw but sometimes you come out on the wrong side of tight games like that.”
The Rossies capitalised on reckless Fermanagh fouls with Cian McKeon and Donie Smith nailing five frees in the first half while Niall Kilroy kicked two superb points. However, Conall Jones kicked six second-half points with Roscommon held scoreless for 23 minutes. His last point put Fermanagh in front for the first time with 10 minutes to go.
The visitors weathered the storm and a point from sub Finbar Cregg plus another free from McKeon saw them edge in front in the 69th minute. They tried to see it out but Fermanagh weren't to be denied, Ryan Jones taking the responsibility to fire over the equaliser in the 72nd minute.
Ciarán Corrigan, in a new role at full-forward, was dangerous all day on the ball and he hit the winner to give McMenamin his first win in charge.
“People tell me Fermanagh have no forwards but I'm happy,” added the Tyrone three-time All-Ireland winner.
“Every day at training I have 38 men who want to be there. It's not down to the size of a county, it's the players you've got and it's our job to make them better footballers.”
Scorers for Fermanagh: C Jones (0-6, 3f), C Corrigan (0-3), E Donnelly, R Jones, A Breen, U Kelm (0-1 each).
Scorers for Roscommon: C McKeon (0-4, 4f), N Kilroy 0-2, D Smith (0-2, 2f), B Stack, E McGrath, H Darcy, F Cregg (0-1 each).
FERMANAGH: J McGrath; J Cassidy, C Cullen, K McDonnell; E Shiels, R O'Callaghan, Shane McGullion; E Donnelly, R Jones; A Breen, U Kelm, C Corrigan; Stephen McGullion, C Jones, L McStravick.
Subs: D McCusker for McStravick (40), D Teague for Shane McGullion (55), N Cosgrove for Shiels (67), E McManus for Breen (69).
ROSCOMMON: C Lavin; D Murray, B Stack, G Patterson; N Daly, C Daly, E McGrath; T O'Rourke, S Killoran; N Kilroy, E Smith, C Lennon; H Darcy, C McKeon, C Cregg.
Subs: D Smith for Killoran (3), R Hughes for O'Rourke (57), F Cregg for C Cregg (58), D Ruane for Darcy (60).
Referee: Cormac Reilly (Meath)