Winning start for Rory Gallagher as Fermanagh manager

Rory Gallagher watched his Fermanagh side beat Monaghan at Brewster Park in their opening McKenna Cup fixture

Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup Section C: Fermanagh 2-11 Monaghan 0-12

FERMANAGH plundered two excellently worked goals in the opening 20 minutes of the second half that proved the difference between the sides as Rory Gallagher got his managerial tenure off to flying start in his native county.

Aidan Breen picked his way through the Monaghan defence before off-loading to Conal Jones who hammered home.

It turned a one-point half-time deficit into a two-point advantage just after the break.

Breen himself got on the goal trail on 53 minutes when he ghosted in behind the Monaghan defence where he received a deft pass from Fermanagh substitute Ruairi Corrigan. The Tempo man made no mistake when left one on one with Rory Beggan.

At the other end, Pat Cadden made a great save from Darren Freeman, while Cian McManus did brilliantly to tip wide from Owen Duffy with Cadden beaten after a vicious drive from the Farney wing forward.

Beggan did hit two excellent 45s in the second half for the visitors, while David Garland finished with four points to his name, split from play and frees.

But it was to be the home side who were to finish the game with the greater purpose and they had points from Ryan Lyons, Ryan Jones, Corrigan and Conor McGee as they took a stranglehold on the game entering the final minutes.

Owen Duffy hit the last score of the game for Monaghan to reduce the home lead to five points, but in truth the Ernemen were good value for their win.

In the Fermanagh defence, Paul McCusker was efficient and calm in possession, while there were surging runs forward from brother Declan and Lee Cullen.

For Monaghan, who were certainly of the more experimental in nature, Paraic McGuirk was eye-catching at times in their defence

Monaghan were a point ahead at half-time thanks primarily to their efficiency in front of goal.

Fermanagh had eight wides in the opening 35 minutes with Monaghan posting just half that total. Three of their scores came from placed balls with Micheal Brannigan curling one beauty off the ground over the bar from 40 yards out.

The full-forward line of David Garland, Darren Freeman and James Wilson were all nifty in possession with Garland and Wilson both registering good scores from play while Freeman won a wealth of possession out in front.

Fermanagh were tackling with ferocity, but referee Sean Hurson was consistently blowing them for free-kicks, while in attack they were hot and cold in terms of execution.

Sean Quigley and Eoin McManus had their first two scores with mighty efforts from all of 50 yards, while Conal Jones had a brace of scores in the first half.

Fermanagh felt they had raised a green flag, but Aidan Breen was adjudged to have picked a breaking ball off the ground before finishing to the net as the half entered injury-time.

For the final act of the half Monaghan midfielder Niall Kearns found himself in space bearing down on goal after a turnover. And while he entertained the notion of a strike for goal, his better judgement took over as he popped it over the bar to give his side the most slender of leads at the whistle.

The second half was to belong to the home side, however, as they registered a deserved win from their first outing in 2018.

Fermanagh: P Cadden; E McHugh, C Cullen, J McCann; P McCusker (0-1), D McCusker, L Cullen; E Donnelly, R Jones (0-1); E McManus (0-1), R Lyons (0-1 free), A Breen (1-1); L McStravick, C Jones (1-2), S Quigley (0-2, 0-1 free).

Subs: C McManus for McCann (41), R Corrigan (0-1) for McManus (51), E Courtney for Quigley (57), C McGee (0-1) for McStravick (60), K Connor for C Jones (70).

Black card: L Cullen, replaced by J Feeley (74); Yellow cards: E McManus (19), C Cullen (25)

Monaghan: R Beggan (0-2 45s); J McCarron, C Boyle, B Kerr; K Duffy, P McGuirk, S Finnegan; N Kearns (0-1), N McAdam; O Duffy (0-1), M Bannigan (0-3 frees), P McKenna; D Garland (0-4, 0-2 frees), D Freeman, J Wilson (0-1).

Subs: F Kelly for Kearns (48), F Connolly for Finnegan (53), D Connolly for McKenna (57), D Hughes for Freeman (57), B McBennett for Brannigan (66), O Coyle for McGuirk (69).

Yellow cards: P McKenna (12), D Freeman (24).

Referee: S Hurson (Tyrone)

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