Dr McKenna Cup: Boost for new Fermanagh boss ahead of league campaign
Donegal 0-7 Fermanagh 0-12: John O'Neill's tenure as Fermanagh manager received a boost when his team overturned Donegal in the final group game of the Dr McKenna Cup in Ballybofey.
In perfect conditions on Saturday night, the game never reached any great heights with Donegal fielding seven debutants — six of them U-21s — even though they had the chance of reaching the semi-final.
Donegal got off to the better start and led for the first quarter but once Paul McGrath and Paul Ward found their range, the Erne men were comfortably ahead by |0-5 to 0-3 at the break.
Powered on by Barry Mulrone at centre half-back, Fermanagh were never really troubled in the second half, despite Donegal introducing some of their more experienced performers including Karl Lacey, Barry Dunnion and Neil McGee, who had a red card received against Tyrone the previous week overturned on appeal.
The win was the first for new manager O'Neill as Fermanagh look to make a bid for promotion in Division Four of the league. They have a free weekend coming up as the league opens for the Ernesiders away to Carlow on Sunday, February 13.
“It was good to get the win but Donegal were well below strength. It is a good boost for this young side ahead of the league,” said O'Neill.
For Donegal manager Jim McGuinness, the league opener with Sligo in Ballybofey on Saturday night next was obviously on his mind.
“It was not a great performance and we made a lot of mistakes in the course of the game. But we had made a lot of changes from last week and fielded a very young and experimental side,” said McGuinness.
Donegal: P Boyle; T McKinley, E Doherty, F McGlynn; L Keaney, D Curran, K Cassidy; O Doherty, C Classon; P McNelis, J Doherty (0-2), O MacNiallais; A Hanlon (0-3, 1f ), R McErlean, M Boyle (0-1). Subs: K Lacey (0-1) for M Boyle (21) B Dunnion for McKinley, R Bradley for O Doherty (36), P McGrath for McGlynn (55), N McGee for Classon (57).
Fermanagh: F Murphy; P Sherry, B Owens, M Jones; P McCusker, B Malone, T McElroy; H Brady, J Melarkey; P McGrath (0-3, 1f), K Cosgrove, N Cassidy; C Leonard, P Ward (0-4, 1f), J Connolly (0-2). Subs: C Quigley for P Sherry (20), T Corrigan (0-2, 1f) for Leonard (42), C Flaherty (0-1) for Cosgrove (47).
Referee: Martin McErlean (Derry).