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McGrath proud as Erne dig deep to avoid drop

Fermanagh 0-12 - Tyrone 1-09

By Declan Bogue

Published 04/04/2016

Face off: Things get heated between Fermanagh and Tyrone at Brewster Park
Face off: Things get heated between Fermanagh and Tyrone at Brewster Park

Fermanagh produced Championship football in April to secure a 0-12 to 1-09 draw against neighbours Tyrone, ensuring they remain in Division Two in 2017 at the expense of Armagh.

The Ernesiders produced two huge pushes to recover from an early Barry Tierney goal, including a spectacular first 20 minutes of the second-half when they scored five points to one to go three in front.

The Red Hands inevitably fought back to level the contest, but Fermanagh showed their composure and eventually ran down the clock.

Delighted Erne boss Pete McGrath said: "It was going to take energy to claim a stake in this game, it was going to take manliness, composure and grit. It was going to take character and I really think we had all of those qualities in abundance.

"There was a period in the second-half when we were in total control, we went three ahead and let them into it again. And then we had great chances but we didn't capitalise."

With Meath beating Laois and Armagh taking care of Derry, relegation came down to a matter of scoring difference and the Orchard's earlier 17-point defeat to Cavan ultimately cost them.

McGrath didn't want to rely on other results. He said: "I heard at half-time that Meath were leading by a point and that Armagh were beating Derry quite easily. That's all I knew."

Fermanagh had gone a point up after 11 minutes when Richie Donnelly spotted the unmarked Tierney and the Omagh man finished smartly past Chris Snow.

Snow's goal was further threatened by a Sean Cavanagh shot which was blocked by Marty O'Brien and a Rory Brennan delivery that Snow completely lost in the air, Eoin Donnelly tracking back to retrieve it off the line.

Cavanagh was given a black card after a foul on Ryan Jones, who was to be the outstanding figure in the second-half, mopping up four break balls from the kickouts.

A couple of Ryan Lyons points had Fermanagh back on level terms. They streaked ahead and weathered the Tyrone comeback after a brief wobble. Both sides then had chances to win it after substitute Tiernan McCann and Ronan O'Neill producing two equalising points either side of Fermanagh's last point through their own sub Pat Cadden.

Tyrone boss Mickey Harte wasn't particularly pleased, his team having drawn their final two games after guaranteeing a final place after their 100 per cent record in the opening five ties.

"It's good preparation if you use it as preparation," he said. "We have got to respond to that, we have got to take something from those games and decide that we can do something better than we did in the last two.

"If we don't, it will just be a chastening lesson for us to know there's teams with more desire to win than us.

"And I know it's difficult when you've already qualified for the final, but it's something we have to be able to do."

Fermanagh: C Snow; M Jones, C Cullen, M O'Brien; D McCusker, J McMahon, D Kelly 0-1; E Donnelly 0-1, B Mulrone; P McCusker 0-1, R Jones, R Lyons 0-2; D Teague 0-1, S Quigley 0-3, 2f, T Corrigan 0-2, 1f

Subs: C Flaherty for Lyons (51m), A Breen for P McCusker (56m), P Cadden 0-1, for Teague (59m)

Yellow cards: Quigley (46), O'Brien (48)

Black cards: T Corrigan (25, replaced by R Corrigan)

Tyrone: M O'Neill; A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron; B Tierney 1-0, R Brennan 0-1, HP McGeary; C Cavanagh, M Donnelly; P McNulty, R O'Neill 0-2, 1f, R Donnelly 0-2; D McCurry 0-1, 1f, S Cavanagh, C McAliskey

Subs: T McCann 0-1 for McGeary (41m), N Sludden 0-1 for McCurry (45m), C Clarke for McNulty (55m)

Yellow cards: M Donnelly (5), M O'Neill (17), R O'Neill (32), C Cavanagh (48)

Black cards: S Cavanagh (29, replaced by M Bradley 0-1f)

Referee: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow)

Attendance: 5,100

Belfast Telegraph

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