If ever there was a case of ‘goals win matches’ , this was it. With the game moving into its final quarter and extra-time looking ominous, up popped the superb Ryan Carson to secure a terrific first round victory for Fermanagh.
This was the first round game that no-one wanted to know about. The two weakest teams in Ulster, playing on a Saturday evening with the World Cup well under way. Not surprisingly there were only a few thousand present! The GAA need to be careful that they don't take the spectators for granted as it is obvious that people have now other priorities!
The game itself was pedestrian but enjoyable as both teams were evenly matched with both full forward lines on top form for most of the game, at least whenever the ball was given in their direction!
The game ebbed and flowed throughout but generally lacked the intensity of the earlier games. Both teams lacked great quality and, unsurprisingly, confidence following dismal league campaigns.
It was evenly matched until Fermanagh produced their surprise package from the bench, and what a difference Seamus Quigley made. Not only did he score a majestic point with his first touch but he also set up that all-important goal.
His presence along with Carson gave encouragement to Tommy McElroy to kick the long diagonal that eventually was so critical. Yet again, we see the advantage of the long delivery and the rewards gained rather than the deliberate and slower handpass game. I am not advocating
an ‘agricultural' approach to the game but there should be more direct kicking into the key scoring areas keeping teams on the back foot and forcing the opposition to rebuild further down the field. This should especially be the case when teams possess decent target men like Quigley and Carson.
Cavan, do not have this luxury and are too reliant on a short passing game and to me, are destined for a short summer and potentially another managerial shake-up.
Fermanagh can now look forward to taking on the rejuvenated Farney men, in the knowledge that they will be massive underdogs.
But they now have introduced some fresh new talent, such as Ward, O'Brien and the marvellous Mulrone to enhance the skills and experience of players like McGrath and McCloskey who have another game under their belts.
They have left their miserable form behind but will have to improve enormously on all fronts if they are to remain in the Championship.