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Erne victory on night when history was made

Fermanagh 1-13 - St Mary's 0-14

By Declan Bogue

Published 07/01/2016

Up close: Fermanagh and St Mary’s battle it out in the McKenna Cup last night at the Garvaghey GAA centre
Up close: Fermanagh and St Mary’s battle it out in the McKenna Cup last night at the Garvaghey GAA centre

Fermanagh came from five points down with half an hour left to produce a spell of what manager Pete McGrath termed "grit" to beat St Mary's in the Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup, a game in which Maggie Farrelly made history as the first woman to referee a match involving a county side.

The game was moved on Tuesday afternoon to Garvaghey, the Tyrone training complex, for fear Brewster Park would not be able to take the constant rain.

Garvaghey has altitude in its favour but it was battered by gales and sheets of rain.

However, there is always Sean Quigley. The charismatic Roslea man came off the bench with 20 minutes remaining and treated the crowd to a selection of his trademark trick shots, nailing four points in the process.

He was the perfect foil for Tomás Corrigan, who had carried the fight in the first half.

The scoring in the opening half was fairly tit-for-tat, with a late goal chance for Matthew Fitzpatrick parried over the crossbar by Chris Snow in the Fermanagh goals.

The score at half-time was 0-6 apiece, and the Falls Road student teachers made a bright start to the second half, lancing over five points in a mere nine minutes, All-Star Kevin McKernan and Tyrone's Conall McCann advancing with purpose.

That prompted a double substitution from McGrath, bringing on Quigley along with the experienced Damian Kelly.

Corrigan from play, Barry Mulrone on a foray forward and a Quigley free narrowed the gap.

Ryan Johnston temporarily staunched the flow of points for St Mary's, but another Corrigan special from an acute angle, followed by a Quigley double, his second a gem, levelled matters.

The deciding score arrived on 64 minutes. A slick hand-passing move through the middle put Ciaran Flaherty in with a sight of goal and, despite the angle, he squeezed his shot home.

Kevin McKernan and Paddy McBride replied to once again leave the minimum in it, but the final point came from Quigley to safely negotiate the way to two points.

On an evening that was less about skill and more about steel, McGrath took a certain level of encouragement.

"I take a lot from it about the team's character," he said.

"St Mary's got up a five-point lead, and a five-point lead on a night like that is a monumental lead to have. We showed a lot of character to come back, particularly in the last 20 minutes, picked off the scores to get level and then obviously the goal made a big difference.

"I said to the boys at half-time, the game would be won by the team that shows the more defiance, the team that defies the elements and defies the opposition. I think we showed a lot of grit and I was very pleased."

He did concede, however, that it was very difficult to judge a player's ability at this level in such trying conditions.

"But there were some boys that did well," he said.

"I thought Kane Connor, after a shaky start, knuckled down and did well.

"It was important we got a win, it was important we showed good qualities in terms of good character."

FERMANAGH: C Snow; K Connor, M Jones, E McHugh; B Mulrone 0-1, J McMahon, A Breen; T Clarke, C Jones; E Donnelly 0-1, C Flaherty 1-1, S McManus; P Cadden, T Corrigan 0-6, 2f, J Duffy. Subs: D McCusker for T Clarke, P McCusker for S McManus (H-time), S Quigley 0-4, 2f and D Kelly for Cadden and Duffy (49m), D Teague for McHugh (65m)

Yellow cards: Corrigan (27m)

ST MARY'S: R Burns; P McAleer, D McBride 0-1, C McCooey; K McKernan 0-3, N McParland, H Loughran; P Carragher, B Og McGilligan; P McBride 0-1, C McCann 0-1, R Johnston 0-1; D Kavanagh 0-5, 3f, M Fitzpatrick 0-1, N Toner. Subs: N McNicholl 0-1 for McGilligan (H-time)

Yellow cards: Fitzpatrick (4, 54m), McBride (27m)

Red cards: Fitzpatrick (54m)

Referee: Maggie Farrelly (Cavan)


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