'One we left behind' laments Fermanagh manager Ryan McMenamin after second half surge not enough in Division Three semi-final with Offaly
Allianz Football League Division Three semi-final: Offaly 1-14 Fermanagh 0-12
A LETHARGIC first half performance proved costly for Fermanagh as they slipped to a five-point defeat to Offaly in their Division Three semi-final at O’Connor Park on Saturday evening.
Ryan McMenamin’s side were second best all over the pitch in the opening period against a vibrant and incisive Offaly outfit and at the break they trailed by six points while they were also reduced to 14 men after captain Eoin Donnelly picked up a second yellow card towards the end of the first half.
Indeed, the Ernemen found themselves seven points adrift midway through the second half but they then rallied and five points in-a-row had them looking as if they would complete an unlikely comeback.
But, Offaly swooped late on with Mark Abbott bagging a goal to secure the victory for the home side.
“It’s one we maybe left behind, we were in charge the whole second half with 14 players but ultimately it was the first half performance that cost us,” admitted McMenamin.
Offaly dominated the opening half with their lively attack continually punching holes in the Erne defence.
Anton Sullivan and Cian Farrell contributed eight points between them while Peter Cunningham saw a shot come back off the base of the post.
In contrast Fermanagh, who were playing against the breeze, laboured in the final third and their cause was further hit by the dismissal of Donnelly in added on time at the end of the half as Offaly went in with a 0-10 to 0-4 lead.
“I think we let them set the tone and they set the tone all over the pitch in the first half,” said McMenamin.
“We stood off them, we were hesitant and a bit nervous on it. It was the lack of aggression and lack on intent that cost us and it took us 35 minutes to get up to the pace of it.
“In the second half we set the tone a lot better and put a lot of intent into it and we nearly got there but it is something we are going to have to review. I thought the lads who came off the bench did really well and we will have to look at that going forward,” he added.
Fermanagh did lift their game after the interval with the introduction of Ultan Kelm, Declan McCusker and Richard O’Callaghan giving them a footing in the contest.
As the half progressed Fermanagh gained the upperhand around the middle and with Darragh McGurn, O’Callaghan, Stephen McGullion and Sean Quigley all landing fine points from distance they cut the gap back to two points, 0-14 to 0-12.
At this stage the momentum was with Fermanagh but against the run of play Offaly grabbed a decisive goal to finish off the Fermanagh challenge. Niall McNamee turned over possession before finding Abbott whose deflected shot found a way past goalkeeper Sean McNally who had previously pulled off two good saves in the second period.
Offaly: P Dunican (0-1 45); D Dempsey, E Rigney, N Darby (0-1); C Doyle, C Stewart, J Hayes; J Lalor, E Carroll; S Horan, P Cunningham, A Sullivan (0-4); B Allen, C Farrell (0-7, 0-2 marks, 0-2 frees), R McNamee (0-1)
Subs: C Mangan for E Carroll, N McNamee for Allen, Donohoe for Hayes, B Carroll for Horan, J Maher for R McNamee, M Abbott (1-0) for Sullivan, A Leavy for Cunningham
Fermanagh: S McNally; K Connor, J Cassidy, L Flanagan; K McDonnell, J McMahon, A Breen; E Donnelly, S McGullion (0-1); C Corrigan (0-1), T Bogue, J Largo-Elis; D Leonard, D McGurn (0-3), S Quigley (0-6, 0-5 frees)
Subs - D McCusker for Connor, U Kelm for Leonard, R O’Callaghan (0-1) for Bogue, T Daly for Breen, C McManus for McDonnell, S Cassidy for Flanagan, M McCauley for McGurn, P McCusker for J McMahon
Referee: P Maguire