Fermanagh keep their promotion fate in their own hands
Allianz Football League Division Three round six: Fermanagh 0-15 Westmeath 2-8
FERMANAGH will travel to Breffni Park on Sunday with their promotion hopes still alive following Saturday’s victory over Westmeath in Ederney.
The Ernemen dominated the contest for long spells and appeared to be easing their way to victory only for Westmeath to hit two goals in as many minutes to leave one between the sides with 10 minutes to go.
However, Fermanagh remained composed and with Ultan Kelm and Che Cullen coming up with scores they were able to keep their noses in front to secure a deserved win.
It means now that if Fermanagh can avoid defeat against Cavan on Sunday they will join the Breffnimen in promotion but defeat leaves the door open for Offaly, who will go up if they then beat Down.
“I felt we controlled that game for long periods, and it would have been a real sucker-punch to have lost it,” said Fermanagh manager Kieran Donnelly.
“I felt that the seven or eight points (lead) didn’t flatter us at any stage. The goals were sucker-punches and I said to the players there that in the past we would maybe have let that affect us, but we didn’t, we went up the pitch and Ultan’s score was massive and then Cully’s point at the end, just big scores.
‘‘That character is a massive part of the team this year.”
Fermanagh played with a strong breeze at their backs in the first half and went in at the break with a five-point advantage, 0-9 to 0-4.
Darragh McGurn, Ultan Kelm, Ryan Lyons and Aidan Breen all chipped in with points in the opening 35 minutes for the Ernemen, but they also had three clear-cut goal chances, two for McGurn and one for Josh Largo Elis, that they failed to convert.
And Donnelly admitted afterwards that he feared at half-time that they may pay for those misses.
“You always fear that, we were cutting through them and we had those goal chances and didn’t take them. We felt that it was at least a six or seven point breeze but I thought our start to the second half was a big platform for us, we started really well and we got two or three crucial scores to take the sting out of their potential start,” said Donnelly.
Lyons, McGurn and Kelm were again among the points during that spell in the third quarter as Fermanagh moved into a 0-13 to 0-6 lead and seemingly heading towards victory but then came Westmeath’s two-goal salvo to put the game right back in the melting pot.
Full-back Kevin Maguire fired home after a good move from the away side, and this was quicky followed by a goal by David Lynch who tucked to the net after Ronan O’Toole’s effort came back off the upright into his arms to make it 0-13 to 2-6.
At this stage the momentum looked to be with the away side, but Fermanagh answered with a wonderful Ultan Kelm effort to edge two in front.
John Heslin, who was well marshalled throughout by Che Cullen, cut it back to the minimum from a free, but Cullen then broke forward to again put two between the sides.
Ronan Wallace did fire over deep in added on time for Westmeath but Fermanagh were able to see out the remainder of the game to seal the win.