Fermanagh reach Tailteann Cup quarter-final with one-point win over Laois

The Erne side will have a home quarter-final in two weeks’ time

Kieran Donnelly guided Fermanagh to Division Two this year
Kieran Donnelly saw his side edge into the quarter-finals with a win over Laois

Tailteann Cup Group 3, round three

Fermanagh 3-11 Laois 2-13

FERMANAGH booked a home quarter-final tie by sealing top spot in Group 3 of the Tailteann Cup with a win over Laois on a sweltering day at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park in Longford.

Both sides went into the game with two wins from two games so there was plenty at stake, but goals proved crucial for Kieran Donnelly’s side with Callum Jones grabbing a brace and Conor McShea netting for a second successive game to give them a one-point win.

“It’s very pleasing,’’ said Donnelly.

“That’s our third win on the bounce, which is always a good thing. I thought our scores in the second half were excellent, some really good team play.

“Just frustrated that we didn’t pull away, we felt when we went three up, we should have stretched the lead a couple of times, but, you know, I thought we showed good character, and our defence again was excellent.”

There were wides for either side in the opening moments but Seán Cassidy, Joe McDade and Garvan Jones eventually put Fermanagh three points clear before Kieran Lillis and Sean Kingston pulled Laois back into it.

Brandon Horan then set Ultán Kelm free and he used his searing pace for the first time in the game to breeze past his man and point.

Eighteen minutes in, Evan O’Carroll caught a ball inside and tucked a right-footed shot into the bottom right corner to hand Laois the lead but it lasted less than 30 seconds as Callum Jones rocketed an effort in at the other hand after a swift attack.

Barry pointed from a free and Kingston punished a poor kick-out to tie the game, but Fermanagh’s timing was again on the money, McShea driving through three Laois players and seeing his drilled shot deflect into the net.

Shane McGullion fouled O’Carroll in injury-time and the latter converted the free from close in, before Laois ‘keeper Killian Roche prevented Kelm from another point when he caught the forward’s shot from range. O’Carroll then kicked the final point of the half to leave his side trailing by the minimum (2-4 to 1-6) at half-time.

Garvan Jones and Callum Jones added early points after half-time, with Roche responding from a free for Laois. Fermanagh captain Declan McCusker then pinged over a beautiful outside-of-the-boot shot only for Kingston and Eoin Lowry to reduce the gap back to one.

Largo-Ellis stretched it back to two again but seconds later Rioghan Murphy was brought down for a Laois penalty and Barry’s conversion into the top right corner put Justin McNulty’s side ahead.

Substitute Shaun Fitzpatrick then scored in between points via Horan and Largo Ellis to leave it all-square again, but it was Fermanagh who would strike the next hammer blow just after the midway point in the half.

Shane McGullion was brought down on the run in the box and referee Thomas Murphy pointed to the spot again. Callum Jones stepped up and buried the spot-kick to edge his side ahead. Barry, Kingston and Mark Timmons tagged on late scores, but a Kelm point before their latter two saw Fermanagh see out the game for victory.

Fermanagh S McNally, L Cullen, C Cullen, J Cassidy, D McCusker (0-1), S McGullion, J Largo-Ellis (0-2), B Horan (0-1), J McDade (0-1), C Jones (2-1, 1-0 pen), C McShea (1-0), F O’Brien, U Kelm (0-2), G Jones (0-2 frees), S Cassidy (0-1 free)

Subs D McGurn for G Jones (50′), C Love for Cassidy (52′), T Bogue for McDade (55′), R McCaffrey for O’Brien (55′), D King for C Jones (65′)

Laois K Roche (0-1 free); D Kavanagh, K Lillis (0-1), M Timmons (0-1); S Lacey, B Byrne, S Fingleton; D Larkin, C Heffernan; M Barry (1-2, 1-0 pen, 0-1f), E Lowry (0-1), K Swayne; R Murphy, E O’Carroll (1-2, 0-1 free), P Kingston (0-4, 0-1 free)

Subs S Fitzpatrick (0-1 free) for Lillis (52′), M Dempsey for Kavanagh (61′)

Referee T Murphy (Galway)