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Tyrone battle to victory over Fermanagh

By Declan Bogue

Published 11/04/2016

So close: Sean Corrigan was left deflated at the finish
So close: Sean Corrigan was left deflated at the finish

Despite being four points up with five minutes remaining, Fermanagh managed to throw away a glorious chance of promotion against rivals Tyrone in Ballyshannon on Saturday, losing 1-24 to 1-19.

The two were contesting a promotion/relegation hurling play-off, with Fermanagh having won Division 3B a fortnight before with victory over Longford.

Tyrone had won two games in Division 3A, but finished second bottom, joint with Fingal but worse off because of their head-to-head result.

Although Tyrone have held the upper hand against Fermanagh in the past few seasons it was the Ernesiders who started the brighter side with Sean Corrigan pointing.

Corrigan was to be Fermanagh's main outlet all day and for Tyrone it was Damien Casey and it was Casey who soon made it one apiece.

Corrigan and Casey exchanged scores once again before Casey Tyrone ahead in the game for the first time after ten minutes.

Fermanagh led by 0-8 to 0-6 at the half-way stage and when Daniel Teague pirated 1-1 after the break his side began to look more comfortable at 1-11 to 0-9.

But the irrepressible Damian Casey hit four unanswered points to cement Tyrone's recovery yet as the end of normal time neared, the Ernesiders still enjoyed a 1-14 to 0-13 advantage.

But a goal from Conor McNally and a sublime point from Casey saw the sides deadlocked at 1-14 each at the end of the regulation 70 minutes play.

Casey, Grugan and Ryan McKernan steered Tyrone through extra-time, their greater fitness and staying power evidence of a year spent at a higher level and perhaps the workload of an over-stretched Fermanagh team, who had 14 of their 15 starters from the Lisbellaw club.

Meanwhile, Donegal launched a stirring comeback against Roscommon, recovering a ten-point gap in Ballina, but it ended 3-13 to 4-9 to the Connacht men to relegate Donegal to Division 3A in 2017.

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