Fermanagh's feisty National Football League campaign ended on a disappointing note when they lost to a fired-up Wexford in a tingling Division Three final at Parnell Park, Dublin yesterday after extra-time.
In a match in which effort, passion and style were offered in abundance, the Ernesiders were unable to last the pace in the second period of extra-time during which Wexford's marksman supreme Mattie Forde suitably atoned for uncharacteristic earlier misses by whipping over four crucial points to secure victory for this side.
But although Malachy O'Rourke's men never gave up - Mark Murphy, Ryan Keenan and Martin McGrath in particular turned in towering performances - they were unable to contain Wexford's vitality and resilience that ultimately took them through to the divisional accolade.
Fermanagh were left reeling following Wexford's fiery opening salvo when Forde rifled home in the fourth minute before Adrian Flynn swooped for their second goal just two minutes later. The Ulstermen looked to be in grave trouble yet they composed themselves and Murphy joined Keenan in helping to trim back the Slaneysiders' scoreboard advantage.
Fermanagh, adrift by just a point at the half-way stage (2-4 to 0-9), were back on level terms by the 46th minute (2-6 to 0-12) before Wexford, who lost Redmond Barry to a red card, pulled clear again when Ciaran Lyng, P J Banville and sub Paddy Colfer pointed. Yet Murphy's superb 70th minute point sent the contest into extra-time.
It was Wexford's third goal from Forde just over a minute before the half-way stage of extra-time had been reached that provided them with an initiative they never subsequently surrendered.
Forde then added four points to seal a deserved victory in a game that provided a sparkling advertisement for the lower regions of the National League.
Wexford scorers: M Forde (2-7, 0-3 frees), A Flynn (1-0), P J Banville, C Lyng (0-3 each), P Colfer, R Barry (0-1 each).
Fermanagh scorers: R Keenan (0-6, 0-3 frees) M Murphy (0-5), M McGrath (0-2, 0-1 free), M Keenan (0-2, both frees) T Brewster (0-2, 0-1 free), C McElroy, E Maguire, M Little (0-1 each).
FERMANAGH: F Murphy; P Sherry, H Brady, D O'Reilly; D Kelly, R McCluskey, T McElroy; M McGrath, S McDermott; R Keenan, J Sherry, C McElroy; M Keenan, M Murphy, E Maguire. Substitutes: N Bogue for D O'Reilly (31 mins), T Brewster for M Keenan (42 mins), L Mcbarron for C McElroy (53), S Lyons for Brady (55), M Little for Brewster (extra-time), S Doherty for McDermott (extra-time).
WEXFORD: A Masterson; C Morris, P Morris, B Malone; A Morrissey, D Murphy, N Murphy; B Boyle, E Bradley ; S Roche, R Barry, A Flynn; C Lyng, P J Banville, M Forde. Substitutes: C Byrne for Roche (48 mins), T Howlin for Bradley (50), P Colfer for Flynn (56), N O'Sullivan for Murphy (60).
Referee: Pat Fox (Westmeath).