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Cool Sean Quigley holds his nerve to rescue Roslea Against Erne Gaels

By John Campbell

Published 14/09/2015

Holding off: Roslea's Shane McMahon under pressure
Holding off: Roslea's Shane McMahon under pressure

Fermanagh illuminated the summer sporting calendar by thundering into the All-Ireland football quarter-finals where their charismatic odyssey was halted by Dublin, but it appears that the Erne County has no intention of slipping into the shadows as domestic fare replaces high-intensity inter-county action.

Yesterday, the Fermanagh Championship threw up two semi-finals of such quality and commitment that progress in the Ulster Club series is not beyond the bounds of possibility.

In drawing with Erne Gaels (1-11 each), reigning champions Roslea not only survived a major fright but absorbed the lesson that retaining their county crown will be a massive undertaking - a fact caustically observed by their manager Sean Bradley.

"I was hugely disappointed with our display," said Bradley. "We never really got going and you could say we are fortunate to be still in the Championship."

Roslea were five points behind in the closing moments until marksman supreme Sean Quigley - he landed 1-8 in all - once again stepped up to the plate to rifle in a goal and then pot a brace of last-gasp points to earn another bite at the cherry.

Yet watching Fermanagh boss Peter McGrath will surely be impressed with the style and panache displayed by Shane Rooney and Ryan Lyons in particular as Erne Gaels galloped into a 0-7 to 0-5 interval advantage, which was subsequently translated into an even more comfortable 1-10 to 0-8 following an opportunist goal from Lyons.

But Roslea's never-say-day spirit, Quigley's scoring touch and the belief that emanates from a period of success was to serve them well when they threatened to topple over the precipice.

Derrygonnelly proved too strong for Devenish in the other equally absorbing semi-final as they came from behind to win by 1-14 to 0-9.

Devenish got off to a dream start and points from Jason Love, Marty O'Brien, Ruairi Maguire, JJ O'Brien and JJ O'Flanagan saw them surge into a 0-5 to 0-1 lead with Derrygonnelly scarcely out of the traps.

But they slipped into a more comfortable rhythm following points from Declan Cassidy and Conall Jones and by half-time were only one point adrift at 0-6 to 0-5.

Derrygonnelly were to maintain their momentum by hitting eight unanswered points in all and at 0-10 to 0-7 they had managed to stamp their imprint on the contest.

Their authority was copper-fastened when Paul Ward struck the only goal of the game to give his side a more commanding lead and even though the impressive Conall Jones, who scored 0-3, was dismissed after incurring a second yellow card, Derrygonnelly swept through the closing phase of the game in style.

Meanwhile, Crossmaglen Rangers were pushed to the limit by a gallant Pearse Og side before coming out on top by 1-14 to 2-6 in a tense Armagh quarter-final.

Johnny Murtagh fired home an early goal for Rangers but Ross Clarke responded in similar vein for the Ogs before Sean Moore converted a second-half penalty to keep their challenge alive.

But Aaron Kernan's cool authority, Kyle Carragher's accuracy and the free-taking of Tony Kernan combined to take the reigning champions over the line yet again.

Ballymacnab also made it through as they just managed to stave off the challenge of a gallant Annaghmore side.

Gavin McParland's cleverly-taken early goal hoisted Ballymacnab into a 1-3 to 0-1 lead with just 15 minutes gone and although Annaghmore hit back, Pascal Canavan's side remained in control at 1-7 to 1-3.

But Annaghmore, inspired by the accuracy of Connor Cullen in particular, thrived during a second-half purple patch when they racked up five unanswered points.

And when Cullen landed his sixth point late in the game, Annaghmore looked set for victory until McParland ensured stalemate again and Rory Grugan whisked over the winning score.

Belfast Telegraph

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