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O'Rourke happy to overcome the stern challenge from Ernemen

By Declan Bogue

In that matter-of-fact way of his, victorious Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke did not complicate his reasoning for their nine-point win.

"The first half, we always thought that Fermanagh would be very competitive. I suppose we started off very well but Fermanagh were very competitive all over the field," said the former Erne county manager.

"I felt we were giving them too much space, they came up the field very easily and they slipped the ball inside easily and won a couple of frees.

"In the second half we had to push up the field and put them under pressure more and I felt that worked for us. We got a few crucial turnovers and were able to capitalise on that inside."

There were only two points in it after an eventful first half where Kieran Hughes was dismissed for a hand-trip on Ryan Lyons after only eight minutes, and there were appeals over a tussle between Conor McManus and Ryan McCluskey that neither manager admitted to seeing.

"The first half had gone well for us, there was a lot of optimism in the dressing room at half-time and a lot of determination and focus to go out and put it up to them as we did in the first half," said Fermanagh boss Pete McGrath.

"When we didn't get the first couple of scores, the gap began to appear, and then the gap began to widen, then it was going to be very difficult against an experienced outfit, a physically imposing team and a well-drilled team."

Ultimately, they hadn't the experience to stay in the hunt, he believed.

"It's probably strength in depth," he said.

"They were able to take on experienced men and they injected energy and pace. We just don't have those resources at the moment, we don't," said the former All-Ireland winner, who stated he had the appetite for another backdoor run.

O'Rourke also said afterwards that the Cavan quarter-final would come too soon for Darren Hughes, recovering from his knee injury, to take part in.

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