Armagh edge past Fermanagh despite some wayward shooting

The Orchard men now face a crunch Ulster derby against Cavan

Stefan Campbell comes under pressure from Louth’s Craig Lennon during Saturday night's Division Two clash at the Box-It Athletic Grounds. Picture by Mark Marlow
Stefan Campbell Stefan Campbell scored three points for Armagh in the win over Fermanagh Picture by Mark Marlow (" ")

Allianz Football League Division Two, round five

Fermanagh 0-11 Armagh 0-15

ARMAGH continued their promotion push with a four-point victory over Fermanagh at Brewster Park yesterday to set up a crunch clash with Cavan on March 16.

The game was originally fixed for Saturday but heavy snow in Enniskillen saw the game postponed before the pitch was deemed playable on yesterday.

The Orchard county led by two at the break and once they stretched that out to five points midway through the second half they never looked like losing the game, although they did waste a number of goal chances.

Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney was pleased with the win but not so much his side’s finishing on the day.

“Happy with the points but our shooting was shocking,” said McGeeney.

“I think we left a lot behind us. Fermanagh are tight at the back and they keep that and look for mistakes and break but we probably missed about 2-5, 2-6 in the first half and more or less the same again in the second half.

“Fermanagh will stay in games. They are tenacious they work extremely hard.”

Armagh started the game brightly as Blaine Hughes and Conor Turbitt registered points before Andrew Murnin then blasted a goal chance over the bar.

Turbitt was the next to have a sight at goal, but his effort was saved by Erne goalkeeper Ross Bogue.

The home side started to settle to the task after this and Conor McGee, Declan McCusker and James McMahon all rattled over scores from distance to put them into a 0-4 to 0-3 lead by the 19th minute.

However, the visitors regained the initiative in the period up to half-time as the excellent Stefan Campbell, Cian McConville, Murnin and Rory Grugan tagged on points, while Peter McGrane blazed over the bar after a quick break had Fermanagh desperately retreating.

Conor McShea did fire over a late point for the Ernemen to leave two in it at half time, 0-8 to 0-6.

The gap was back to the minimum at the start of the second half as Ultan Kelm clipped over a free.

It was over the next period that Armagh tightened their grip on the contest as that bit of extra quality they possess shone through.

Turbitt, Grugan, Murnin and Campbell were all among the points as Armagh pushed the gap out to five and that advantage could have been greater as another break had Fermanagh scrambling. Corner-back Paddy Burns carried the ball from deep in his defence as Bogue raced to get back to his goal, but Burns’ shot was wide of the post.

Fermanagh continued to battle and Sean Cassidy slotted over a free, while Garvan Jones converted a mark to leave three in it, 0-13 to 0-10, inside the final 10 minutes.

However, Campbell rattled over his third point from play before Hughes drilled over another 45 to ensure that Armagh returned home with the points.

A third successive defeat for Fermanagh has left them in a battle at the bottom of the table and manager Kieran Donnelly says they will have to take the positives into two key games against Louth and Cavan.

“I thought for large periods of the first half we were using the ball well and we had some excellent scores from distance but they have pace and power in every area of the pitch,” he said.

“They got a run in the second half and once they stretched the lead out to four or five points it was always going to be an uphill struggle because they are really well organised defensively and they are very physical.

“But I was very pleased for large parts of the game and it is important that we take the positives into the final two games,” he said.

Fermanagh R Bogue; L Cullen, C Cullen, C McManus; D McCusker (0-2), S McGullion, J McMahon (0-1); B Horan, J McDade (0-1 mark); C McGee (0-1), C McShea (0-1), F O’Brien; T Bogue, G Jones (0-2, 0-1 mark), U Kelm (0-1 free). Subs: J Largo Elis for McManus (h-t), R McCaffrey for McMahon (45), S Cassidy (0-1 free) for T Bogue (52), J Reihill for Kelm (55), C Jones (0-1) for McGee (70+3).

Armagh B Hughes (0-2 45s); P Burns, A McKay, P McGrane (0-1); G McCabe, A Forker, C Mackin; B Crealey, S Campbell (0-3); A Murnin (0-3,0-1 mark), R Grugan (0-2), J McElroy; C McConville (0-1), C Turbitt (0-3, 0-1 free), O Conaty. Subs J Og Burns for Crealey (44), J Duffy for Conaty (55), B McCambridge for McElroy (58), O O’Neill for McConville (62), R McQuillan for Burns (65).

Referee P Fallon (Down)