Ciaran Corrigan completes Fermanagh fightback against Roscommon
Allianz Football League Division Two: Fermanagh 0-13 Roscommon 0-12
PERHAPS it was a Freudian slip but even Fermanagh boss Ryan McMenamin seemed hardly able to believe that his side had snatched this victory.
“I’m happy to get the point, but I have to put it all down to the players,” declared ‘Ricey’ after the Ernemen had stunned Roscommon by winning a match in which they’d led for only around three minutes before the decisive last-gasp score.
Ciaran Corrigan, guilty of missing an extraordinary close range goal chance the previous weekend, was the hero with that crucial point, struck in the fourth minute of added time – with Fermanagh having been behind less than 60 seconds before that.
Ryan Jones had levelled matters at 12 points apiece, but it was his younger brother Conall who really stood out. Barely on the ball before the break, at least not in the opposition half, Fermanagh’s number 14 kicked six second half scores, three of them from play, including their first lead point on the hour.
“Conall had a quiet first half, but he knows what kind of footballer he is,” said McMenamin. “He can’t sit back and wait for it to happen.
“First half, everyone was sitting back waiting for it to happen, as if it was magically going to appear. Second half, totally different players.”
Indeed the contrast for both teams was scarcely credible, especially as this wasn’t a wind-affected game.
Roscommon led by five points to no score at the end of the first quarter of play, and despite a brief Fermanagh revival were then six up at half-time, 0-9 to 0-3, but were outscored by 10 to three after the teams turned around.
Their shell-shocked boss Anthony Cunningham felt “we deserved to get something out of the match, most definitely.
“We lost our way for large parts of the second half, came back and steadied the ship – and then lost it at the death.”
Roscommon could not cope with the hosts’ more aggressive attitude in the second period, as Ernemen tore into tackles and pushed up the pitch.
“It was a game of two halves, really,” acknowledged Cunningham. “We did to Fermanagh what they did to us in the second half. We just didn’t have the patience and composure there in the second half.
“Whether that’s mental, that we thought we could win the game easily, or were so far up and were going very well against a very defensive system. But no excuses for going away from that and losing that style of play in the second half.”
Fermanagh’s initial approach was dreadful. McMenamin handed starts to youngsters Eoin Shiels and Lorcan McStravick but the entire team was terrible for the opening 20 minutes.
The visitors lost midfielder Shane Killoran to a serious-looking injury almost straight from the throw-in, the Elphin man stretchered off and replaced by forward Donie Smith.
However, it didn’t adversely affect the Rossies, who dominated the opening quarter. The patient approach frustrated Fermanagh, who twice clattered full-forward Cian McKeon, who picked himself up to convert the frees. Donie Smith also punished a foul on Cathal Cregg.
“We were very passive, going through the motions, just box-ticking,” reckoned McMenamin.
Although Ryan Jones had gone forward initially, Corrigan was largely the hosts’ lone attacker. Eventually the Ernemen began to get men up to support the Maguiresbridge man’s clever movement but Shane McGullion could not find the net with a scuffed shot.
Fermanagh finally got on the scoresheet after 21 minutes, a super solo score from Eoin Donnelly, quickly followed by good points from Aidan Breen and Corrigan.
Yet as the rain began to lash down that proved to be a false dawn as Roscommon took control again, stretching their lead to six points by the break, 0-9 to 0-3.
‘Ricey’ insisted that wasn’t down to some paint-stripping team talk or genius tactical tweak, but all about attitude:
“There were no changes, no set-up changes or nothing, we just said we had to make it a battle. Whenever you play Gaelic football it’s a battle, you against the other man. I thought we showed that Roscommon team far too much respect.
“It’s like anything in life, if you’ve a poor attitude you’re not going to get anywhere.”
Fermanagh began to get somewhere, starting the second half strongly, with the sun out again, two quick scores coming from Conall Jones, and although Hubert Darcy pointed for Roscommon the men in green continued to shine.
Corrigan was to the fore, winning frees, adding another point, and setting up chances, but management did play their part too with their alterations off the bench, as McMenamin pointed out:
“I’m very happy too with the subs who came on and made a great difference – Danny [Teague], Eoin Mc[Manus], Deccy McCusker – they did fantastic for us, plus we’d a lot of young boys, who will make mistakes, but you have to let them learn.”
The home support began to get involved too, sensing something other than a dismal defeat, and the men in green took their tally of consecutive scores to six, through Ultan Kelm and that man Conall Jones to go ahead at least after an hour’s play.
Roscommon responded, substitute Finbar Cregg equalising then McKeon again sending over a free after he was fouled, and it seemed as if Fermanagh had expended too much energy in getting back into the game, only for it to slip away from them.
Yet their ferocity returned, with Meath referee Cormac Reilly letting plenty of challenges go, which Cunningham felt was a factor: “We probably didn’t get the rub of the green off the referee with a couple of decisions right at the finish, but that’ll happen in League matches, hometown decisions they’re called.”
The roar that greeted the score from Ryan Jones had barely stopped reverberating, Fermanagh folk celebrating what would have been a very pleasing draw, when they turned the ball over again.
Corrigan sped up the left wing then swung over the winner to secure a first competitive win for a delighted McMenamin: “There are some days you have to dog it out – and we dogged it out. We went behind again late on but turned it around and I’m proud of the lads”.
Fermanagh: J McGrath; J Cassidy, C Cullen, K McDonnell; E Shiels, R O’Callaghan, Shane McGullion; E Donnelly (0-1), R Jones (0-1); A Breen (0-1), U Kelm (0-1), C Corrigan (0-3); Stephen McGullion, C Jones (0-6, 0-3 frees), L McStravick.
Substitutes: D McCusker for McStravick (41); D Teague for Shane McGullion (57); N Cosgrove for Shiels (67); E McManus for Breen (68)
Yellow cards: Cullen (65); McManus (70).
Roscommon: C Lavin; D Murray, B Stack (0-1), G Patterson; N Daly, C Daly, E McGrath (0-1); T O’Rourke, S Killoran; N Kilroy (0-2), E Smith, C Lennon; H Darcy (0-1), C McKeon (0-4 frees), C Cregg.
Substitutes: D Smith (0-2 frees) for Killoran (4, inj.); R Hughes for O’Rourke (57); F Cregg (0-1) for C Cregg (59); D Ruane for Darcy (61);
Yellow cards: Lennon (72).
Referee: Cormac Reilly (Meath).