Tyrone have that little bit extra to sink Fermanagh
TENACIOUS Tyrone made a Lazarus-like recovery to bring this match to extra-time and eventually edge out a shell-shocked Fermanagh in Ballyshannon on Saturday.
A basic error from Fermanagh ’keeper Cathal McGarry gifted a goal to Tyrone’s Aidan Kelly in the 74th minute before seconds later Tyrone marksman Damien Casey levelled matters at 1-14 apiece. Erne joint-manager Seamus McCusker later claimed Donegal referee James Connors played too much injury-time.
Stunned Fermanagh rallied briefly in extra-time and led through Daniel Teague. But Tyrone, who were restored to 15 men for extra-time, after losing midfielder Justin Kelly to a straight red card in the 36th minute, led 1-18 to 1-17 at half-time in extra time.
The magnificent Casey and Conor Grogan eased Tyrone clear in the second period of extra-time as Fermanagh missed two great goal chances in the opening two minutes of extra-time.
This was a remarkable victory for a Tyrone side that simply refused to die, as they trailed for long periods and struggled to contain a rampant Fermanagh full-forward line of Ciaran Corrigan, Sean Corrigan and Teague. But Fermanagh have only themselves to blame for losing a match they dominated for long periods in the second half.
Disappointed Fermanagh joint manager McCusker said the match came down to two minutes played above the allocated time: “I am very disappointed and we did not deserve that.
“I had my stopwatch going and I showed it to the linesman and he said ‘I have been trying to get him' [the referee]. Fair play to Tyrone on staying up and good luck to them. There is no gripes with them whatsoever.”
A smashing goal from Fermanagh dual player Teague looked to be the clinching score in this frenetic affair as he smashed the sliotar to the net in the 45th minute. Teague’s corker put Fermanagh ahead 1-10 to 0-9 and they would have been home free but for Casey’s brilliant accuracy from long-range frees. And it was fitting that Casey got those final vital scores in the second period of extra-time to ensure a memorable victory for the Red Hands.
Wind-assisted Fermanagh settled swiftly and had two excellent chances of a point and a goal in the opening 90 seconds. It took a courageous diving block from Tyrone corner-back Conor McNally to deny Conor McShea’s point-blank effort from hitting the net after Teague had cleverly unlocked the Tyrone defence with a neat handpass.
Sean Corrigan got Fermanagh off the mark with a pointed free in the third minute and that set the pattern for a closely contested first quarter. Play was scrappy as both side struggled to raise the sliotar on a bumpy surface.
Tyrone relied almost exclusively on full-forward Casey for inspiration and his frees kept the Red Hands in touch as the sides tied at 0-3 apiece after 12 minutes. Red Hand midfielder Aidan Kelly then hit the point of the match as he cut through the Fermanagh defence to give Tyrone a rare lead.
But with Declan McGarry moving from full-forward to midfield, the Ernemen had the better of the remainder of the half as the points flowed from John Paul McGarry and Corrigan.
Fermanagh eased into a 0-8 to 0-5 lead by the 35th minute as Casey hit four uncharacteristic wides for Tyrone. And the Red Hands were struck a huge blow in the 37th minute when midfielder Justin Kelly was lined for striking referee James Connors consulted with his linesman.
Fermanagh deserved their narrow interval lead as they looked the more enterprising side throughout. Tyrone turned over with the slight breeze but were outplayed until that final remarkable smash and grab act in extra time.
Delighted Tyrone manager Kevin Ryan paid tribute to the sheer spirit of his charges and admitted they got a lucky break for the all-important goal: “I think we got a lucky break there, but I would I’d be more pleased with what we did with the lucky break,” he said.
“I’s feel for Fermanagh there, in fairness, that sport can be cruel and I have been on the other side of it. From the start, we were happy with the effort, but we knew in the second half with 14 men we were up against it.”