Fermanagh beat Derry in a game of two halves

Derry’s Enda Lynn holds the ball as Fermanagh trio Eoin Donnelly, Declan McCusker and Barry Mulrone close in during Saturday’s Football League Division Three match at Brewster Park Picture by Jason Moncrieff
From Colm Bradley at Brewster Park

Allianz Football League Division Three: Fermanagh 1-16 Derry 3-8

THERE was a strange feeling in the Brewster Park air at the final whistle of this Division Three clash with Derry on Saturday evening.

For the home side the sense of relief was palpable, having almost thrown away an 11-point lead in the last 30 minutes. For Derry the sheer abject awfulness of the opening 20 minutes was still lingering despite a stirring second half comeback.

A game of the proverbial two halves saw Fermanagh, who maintained their 100 per cent record in Division Three, dominate the first and Derry take control in the second.

A total of 1-12 was recorded by a near flawless home attacking system in the first half. With seven different players on the scoresheet, Fermanagh were in a real attacking groove. Seamus Quigley hit 1-6 of that 1-12, with the Roslea man looking lean and hungry in equal measure.

His goal came on the 12-minute mark. A long ball from Paul McCusker saw Quigley hold off Michael McEvoy and as he cushioned the ball to the ground with his right hand a delicate flick off the right boot saw it past Ben McKinless in the Derry goal.

Quigley was also a handful from play winning plenty of possession in front and to accompany this long ball threat there was some ferocious running from deep with Aidan Breen, Barry Mulrone, Ciaran Corrigan and Declan McCusker all scoring as a result of late marauding runs.

Derry simply had no answer to this threat, although it is fair to say they were not looking very hard. Completely off the pace in this period the Oak Leaf men looked outclassed, but with the benefit of 40 more minutes to analyse, the judgement was reached that during the opening 20 minutes they were quite simply outworked, a point their manager, Damian McErlean agreed with after the game.

“We didn’t start at all. You can work on your game all week and on what you want to do but if you don’t go out there and compete, get stuck in and get in there for the breaking ball then it doesn’t matter what you have worked on. Fermanagh were far hungrier and sharper in that period,” he explained.

Derry clung on to the Fermanagh coattails thanks to three Mark Lynch frees and an Emmett Bradley goal. Bradley’s goal came from a bit of quick thinking from Lynch who took advantage of a napping home defence after a free to release his colleague one on one with Pat Cadden. Bradley made no mistake.

For Fermanagh manager Rory Gallagher, the attacking display of his team in the first half was a reason to be positive after the game.

“I thought the first half was excellent, regardless of what level Derry were at. I thought we completely dominated. It is the first time all year we have been out on a middling surface on a middling day and I thought we played some great football.”

The former Donegal boss was less than happy with what he described as real ‘sloppiness’ from his side in defence.

“We gave away a very sloppy goal and I think sloppiness just set in with six or seven minutes to go to half-time. We gave away two desperate goals in the second half then. In fact all three goals were bad, switching off from a quick free for the first, a high ball punched in the square for the second and then a misplaced pass for the third. All really desperate goals to concede.”

Those second half Derry goals came within two minutes of each other. Lynch rising uncontested between backs and goalkeeper to flick home for his side’s second major of the night. For the third, Cadden hit a crossfield ball in an attempt to find a colleague but it was Danny Tallon who got his hand to the ball to cut it out and James Kielt did the rest with as easy a finish as he will ever have.

The score left five between the sides, though Cadden somewhat redeemed himself with a super save from Kielt not long after to stop another goal. For the remainder of the game Derry outscored Fermanagh 0-05 to 0-02 with Terence O’Brien and Padraig MacGrogan and the ever-industrious and impressive Enda Lynn joining Kielt and Lynch in the scoring stakes. At the other end Paul McCusker and Cian McManus were the sole respondents for Fermanagh.

With four minutes of injury-time to play Derry had the deficit trimmed to two points but Lynch and Kielt were both wide from reasonable positions and in the end Fermanagh held on for the win that they deserved but very nearly did not secure.

Fermanagh: P Cadden, M Jones, C Cullen, C McManus 0-01, B Mulrone 0-01, C McGee, D McCusker 0-01, E Donnelly 0-01, R Jones, P McCusker 0-01, C Corrigan 0-01, A Breen 0-01, D Teague, C Jones 0-01, S Quigley 1-08 (6f, 1 45’). Subs: R Corrigan for Teague (HT) (Black Card), L Cullen for Magee (54), T Corrigan for Quigley (58), R McCluskey for P McCusker (58), S Quigley for C Jones (64), R Lyons for Breen (71).

Black Card: D Teague (36)

Yellow Cards: D McCusker (32), B Mulrone (48)

Derry: B McKinless, M McEvoy, K Johnston, J Curran, M Bateson, C McWilliams, C Doherty, C McAtamney, E Bradley (1-00), P Mac Grogan 0-01, E Lynn 0-01, J Kielt 1-02 (2f), M Lynch 1-03 (3f), T O’Brien (0-01), N Toner. Subs: D Tallon for E Bradley (HT), C McLuskey for Curran (37), B Herron for Doherty (49), P Hagan for Bateson (55).

Yellow Cards: E Bradley (23), M Batseon (44)

Referee: P Hughes (Armagh)

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