Derry and Fermanagh ladies must replay after junior final draw

Jackie Donnelly of Derry in action against Róisín O'Reilly, centre, and Nuala McManus of Fermanagh during the TG4 Ladies Football All-Ireland Junior Championship final Picture by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Louise Gunn at Croke Park

All-Ireland Ladies Junior Football Championship final: Derry 2-10 Fermanagh 3-7

A SHARON Murphy penalty with 48 seconds left rescued a replay for Fermanagh in yesterday’s enthralling All-Ireland junior championship final at Croke Park.

The Ulster champions trailed by nine points with 13 odd minutes left and it looked like the game was beyond them as they played second best to Derry, who put in one of their best performances of the year.

The Oak Leaf side, who had lost to Fermanagh three times already this year, had obviously not read the script prior to throw-in with many not giving Paul Hasson’s side a chance but clearly they had their homework done and Fermanagh struggled to make any headway until the end.

“We turned the tables on Fermanagh, that wasn’t going to be a walkover today,” said Hasson.

“The girls in Derry have worn that Oak Leaf with extreme pride today. They are still in an All-Ireland title, there is still an All-Ireland final to be won, so we will go out and finish the job the next day.

“We couldn’t get that killer score. We had chances upon chances and we were maybe a bit naive in the last four or five minutes when Fermanagh threw everything at us.

“[There was] some great defending but you can’t really anticipate penalties in the last seconds of the game to draw an All-Ireland. The game should have been dead and buried in the first half.”

Fermanagh boss Emmet Curry knew his side had been given a lifeline and were grateful for it.

“We are lucky to be in it,” he said Curry.

“We were dead and buried. We are a lot, lot better than what we showed today but we got the penalty and I thought it should have been a free after that but, look, we are still there and I am happy to be there. Derry were brilliant today and we didn’t turn up.”

Derry led by a point at half-time, 1-4 to 1-3, but should have been much further in front, eight first half wides telling their own story while Fermanagh goalkeeper Roisin Gleeson also pulled off a couple of saves.

Derry led 0-4 to 0-1 after 15 minutes, Erin Doherty finally opening the scoring in the ninth minute after three wides, a save and two balls dropped short from Derry.

Fermanagh’s reply was instantaneous through Sharon Murphy before Derry hit three points in as many minutes through Megan Devine, Emma Doherty and Danielle Kivlehan.

However, Fermanagh were back on level terms once again when the unmarked Roisin O’Reilly blasted past Cheree Mackey in the Derry goals. Murphy put Fermanagh in front for the first time in the 22nd minute after Derry had missed yet another goal chance.

Derry hit the front again in the 26th minute when a great pass in from Ciara Moore found corner-forward Ciara McGurk and, although Gleeson managed to take the sting out of the Steelstown player’s shot, it still had enough to find net and Derry led 1-4 to 1-2.

Fermanagh teenager Eimear Smyth narrowed the half-time gap to a point, but Derry burst out of the traps after the break, with an unanswered 1-5 to lead 2-9 to 1-3 by the 47th minute.

Doherty (0-3), Annie Crozier (0-1) and Devine were all on target with Devine adding Derry’s second goal to her point.

Things looked ominous for Fermanagh but they hit a purple patch and within 10 minutes they were back to within two points, 2-7 to 2-9.

An Aisling Woods goal, as well as points from O’Reilly and Blaithin Bogue and two Smyth frees dragged them back into it.

The Oak Leafers hit back with a Doherty free but the stage was set for an incredible final five minutes. Devine hit the crossbar for Derry before Smyth was adjudged to have been fouled and referee Angela Gallagher awarded Fermanagh a penalty.

Murphy duly dispatched the spot kick to level the game for the third time with 48 seconds left on the countdown clock.

There was still time for further drama when Fermanagh felt Smyth had been fouled after they won the ball from the kick-out, but Gallagher let play continue and the hooter sounded the end of the game with the replay scheduled for Sunday, October 8.

Derry: C Mackey; A McGough, D Donnelly, C Glass; N Browne, K Holly, D Kivlehan (0-1); A Laverty, E Doherty (0-5 frees); J Donnelly, C Moore, E Doherty; A Crozier (0-1), M Devine (1-2), C McGurk (1-0)

Subs: R Roberts for Browne (63)

Fermanagh: R Gleeson; E Campbell, C Murphy, N McManus; M Connolly, S Hamilton, A Maguire; M McDonald; A McGovern; R O’Reilly (1-1), A Woods (1-0), L Maguire; E Smyth (0-3, 0-2 frees), S Murphy (1-2, 1-0 penalty), N McManus

Subs: B Bogue (0-1) for McGovern (42), S Britton for McManus (63)

Referee: A Gallagher (Dublin)

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