Ernesiders dedicate Meagher Cup win to tragic Mulholland
Fermanagh 3-16 - 1-17 Sligo
Captain John Paul McGarry remembered former colleague Shane Mulholland as Fermanagh clinched the Lory Meagher Cup amid emotional scenes at Croke Park.
The beaten 2012 and 2014 finalists remarkably lost three men to red cards in the second half yet still held on for a comfortable win.
The character-laden comeback from seven points down at one stage was a fitting tribute to old ally Mulholland.
A sub in last year's final defeat to Longford, the Lisbellaw hurler passed away in April following a road traffic accident.
Skipper McGarry dedicated the victory to the father of one, his wife and daughter as he lifted the cup.
"This cup is for Shane Mulholland, Vanessa and Aisling," said McGarry.
"Shane said this was the Holy Grail for Fermanagh hurling and that's exactly what it is. He would have loved to walk up these steps, he'd have relished the opportunity. I'd just like to say, this is for him."
Fermanagh came up two points short of Longford in last year's decider. Their prospects 12 months later didn't look great after leaking 5-16 to Sligo in the dress rehearsal a week earlier.
But after a slow start, they took a 3-5 to 0-12 half-time lead.
Sean Corrigan's 22nd-minute goal had offered Fermanagh real hope. And two from Declan McGarry in the 29th and 35th minutes moved them into an unlikely interval lead.
McGarry's first goal was a beauty, releasing a bullet shot after a great run. His second was a tap in after Andrew Breslin's shot deflected kindly into his path.
The Ernesiders capitalised on their momentum to move eight clear after the restart. A brace of points each from goalscorer Declan McGarry, Corrigan and the excellent Brian McLaughlin edged them 3-11 to 0-12 clear.
Sligo got it back to a two-point game after Ciaran Brennan's 58th-minute goal and Fermanagh lost John Duffy, Karl Kehoe and David Teague to second-half dismissals. But they finished the stronger with three more McLaughlin points and one from skipper John Paul McGarry.
FERMANAGH: M Curry; D Teague, M Teague, E Mahon; K Kehoe, M Slevin, B Duffy; J Duffy (0-3, 1f), D Teague; JP McGarry (0-1), D McGarry (2-3, 0-1f, 0-1 65), A Breslin; S Corrigan (1-3), B McLaughlin (0-5), C Corrigan (0-1). Subs: F Bannon for Mahon 25, D Cullen for Daniel Teague 71.
SLIGO: S Hayes; T Brennan, M Davey, R Redmond; E McGowan, J Kenny, A Morrison; N Hyland (0-1), G O'Kelly-Lynch (0-6, 3f); B McMahon, D Fahy, K Raymond (0-8, 6f); G Cadden (0-1), C Brennan (1-0), G Waldron (0-1). Subs: P Leonard for Fahy 31, F Keown for Redmond 39, N Cadden for G Cadden 57.
Referee: C Cunning (Antrim).
The Ulster Council have fixed the Fermanagh and Monaghan Ulster football semi-final on June 21 for Kingspan Breffni Park.
The previous two Ulster semi-finals featuring Monaghan had been played at Clones, but Fermanagh boss Pete McGrath indicated that he would prefer the tie to be played on neutral ground.