Fermanagh beat Derry to book spot in semi-final of All-Ireland junior championship

Carlow are guaranteed second spot ahead of the final games this weekend

Eimear Smyth and Niamh McIntosh
Eimear Smyth was in fine scoring form for Fermanagh in the win over Derry Picture: Sportsfile (Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)

TG4 All-Ireland Ladies’ JFC Group A, round two

Fermanagh 2-18 Derry 4-7

ULSTER champions Fermanagh booked their place in the last four of the All-Ireland junior championship with a win over Derry in Brewster Park on Wednesday night but they had to turn around a two-point half-time deficit to see off the Oak Leaf challenge.

The win for CJ McGourty’s side has guaranteed them top spot in the group, with Carlow taking second place. Neither side can be caught, regardless of results in this weekend’s final games.

These two  sides met just over a month ago in the Ulster final, Fermanagh winning by 20 points, but this game was a much closer affair, with Derry showing that they have the talent and ability to mix it with teams challenging for All-Ireland honours and although they will be disappointed with the result, they can continue to take positives from their improving performances, with Sligo still to come on Sunday.

Two first-half goals from Dara McKeever gave Derry a 2-6 to 1-7 advantage, but Bronagh Sheridan’s goal in injury-time was crucial for Fermanagh.

Eimear Smyth weighed in with five of Fermanagh’s first-half points, three of those from frees, Lisa Maguire with the other, while Emma Doherty grabbed three of Derry’s points and Leah McGonagle added a brace. McKeever struck the back of the net in the 18th and 24th minutes, her second giving Derry a six-point lead, 2-6 to 0-6, but the Smyth sisters grabbed 1-1 between them in the final minutes of the half.

Fermanagh came storming out of the blocks in the second half and rattled off five unanswered points to put them into the lead, 1-12 to 2-6.

Derry’s first score of the half did not come until the 43rd minute, but it was another goal for the Oak Leaf girls to bring them right back into the game.

However, just three minutes later, Fermanagh struck for a crucial second goal, Blaithin Bogue on target, to make it 2-15 to 3-6.

Smyth added a brace of points and Fermanagh saw the game out with 14 players after a 55th-minute sin-binning, even though Derry found the back of the net again, this time through Ciara McGurk, to bring them to within four points.

Cara Donnelly, Danielle Maguire and Smyth added points for the Erne girls, who finish up with a home game against London on Sunday.