Armagh 1-10, Fermanagh 1-10: Fermanagh manager Peter McGrath clearly basked in a warm glow of satisfaction following his team’s trojan effort to secure what could yet prove a precious point in a promotion context and who could blame him?
The former Down All-Ireland-winning supremo had watched Armagh boss the greater part of the first half — they led by 1-6 to 0-1 at one stage — before his own charges dug deep into their reservoir of skill, courage and self-belief to nail their booty via a last-gasp kick from Ryan Jones.
“We knew it was going to be hard against Armagh but when we staged a recovery prior to the break, it gave us the incentive to up the tempo further in the second half, and I was very pleased with the application and character of the team,” declared a delighted McGrath.
A frenetic work-rate coupled with some smart finishing saw Fermanagh wrest back the initiative, their efforts embellished by Ruairi Corrigan’s spectacular 28th-minute goal, a sharp riposte to an equally impressive earlier score from Armagh’s Micheal McKenna.
Sean Quigley’s accuracy complemented that of the home team’s Ethan Rafferty to the extent that, far from sagging against the ropes, Fermanagh were very much in contention at 1-7 to 1-3 at halfway.
And in restricting their hosts to just three points after the break, Fermanagh underlined their resilience and stoic resolve.
With Quigley sniping to deadly affect from frees and play, Ryan McCluskey marshalling the defence and Ryan Jones tour de force performance at half-forward, Fermanagh inched closer to their hosts and finally got level when Jones thundered over a stunning point deep in the bowels of injury-time leaving Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney to reflect on what might have been.
“We should easily have had another five or six points on the board, and probably a goal. We also hit the post a few times but that’s the way in goes,” observed McGeeney.
“Fermanagh will always push you hard and I would say we were the architects of our own downfall in terms of letting them back into the game. We now have a big game coming up down in Clare.”
Scorers for Armagh: E Rafferty 0-5 (four frees), M McKenna 1-1, M Murray 0-2, A Forker, E McVerry 0-1.
Scorers for Fermanagh: S Quigley 0-6 (four frees), R Corrigan 1-0, R Jones 0-2, E Donnelly T Corrigan 0-1.
ARMAGH: N Geoghegan; M McConville, C Vernon, M Murray 0-2; C McKeever, F Moriarty, A Mallon; A Findon, P Carragher; J Clarke, M McKenna, A Forker; T Kernan, E Rafferty, A Murnin.
Subs: E McVerry for Murnin (h/t), S Harold for Carragher (53), C Rafferty for Findon (62), S Forker for A Forker (66).
FERMANAGH: T Tracey; M Jones, T Daly, M O’Brien; D McCusker, R McCluskey, J McMahon; E Donnelly, R O’Callaghan; P McCusker, R Jones, B Mulrone; T Corrigan, S Quigley, R Corrigan.
Subs: C Flaherty for P McCusker (43), N Cassidy for McMahon (50), C Jones for O’Callaghan (62), A Breen for T Corrigan (69)
Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry).
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