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Armagh go up as Erne men face a tense finish

Fermanagh 0-7 Armagh 0-7


On rise: Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney

On rise: Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney

On rise: Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney

"Definitely not one for the purists," said Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney as his side gained promotion with this draw.

Meanwhile, Fermanagh have a winner takes all clash for promotion on Sunday against Longford.

A brutal day for football, with both sides suffering some staggering statistics. Fermanagh did not register a score from play for the last 69 minutes of the game. They had two red cards.

Armagh hit three wides after pulling a 0-5 to 0-1 deficit from half-time to 0-7 each, in the last 13 minutes of football.

With a wind blowing from corner to corner, 11 of the 14 scores were shot into the Cornagrade Road End. Playing into that end the home side made the early running with a couple of Seamus Quigley frees added to points from play by Aidan Breen and Barry Mulrone, before Armagh eventually opened their account on 24 minutes, Stephen Sheridan skipping in behind a heavily fortified defence to drill over when a goal looked on.

After the break Fermanagh couldn't get a hold of their own kickout, only getting two of the first 10 restarts. They sent on Danny Teague but he lasted a mere 13 minutes before he was sent off for kicking out at Gregory McCabe.

Three minutes later, Aidan Breen followed him for his second yellow card, and with Armagh growing into the game with Aidan Forker dominant around the middle and Rory Grugan inventive inside, they passed up two chances from Niall Grimley - one of them a fairly-easy looking free, and another from Anthony Duffy.

Late drama added some heat on a day when you might have hung beef off the John Vesey Stand, the home side having two chances to chisel out an unlikely win when Seamus Quigley had two late chances from the dead ball, but he couldn't rise either chance sufficiently to clear the crossbar.

"Delighted with that," was a chipper Armagh boss McGeeney at the finish. "We probably could have played a wee bit better and finished a wee bit stronger but it was a tough game.

"It was great to get a point out of it, we couldn't seem to get going. We tried not to make any mistakes this year and get out of Division Three, and we did that."

While their goal was not to make mistakes, he also declared himself satisfied that the panel and reserves of players were enough to do a professional job up until this stage.

"If you want to pick a team from the boys that are travelling or injured, we've about 16 missing," he stated.

"You could go through them all - James [Morgan], Aaron [McKay], [Mark] Shieldsy, Shea [Heffron], Ciaran O'Hanlon, Jamie [Clarke], Soupy [Stefan Campbell], Oisin O'Neill, Rian O'Neill, Ryan McShane has been flying for us in the league, Ronan Lappin came on there.

"That's the one thing very pleasing. You could argue you're missing a lot of players but is that an argument? Everybody could come up with a list of players. "That was Ryan Kennedy's first game there today, Aaron Findon hasn't played in a while and came on and did well.

"We've been unlucky in terms of injuries. Paddy Burns has been outstanding for us. We've unearthed a few players and come the summer, we'll need every one of them and maybe more."

"Defensively, we were sound," stated Erne manager Rory Gallagher.

"The game favoured defences when it finished seven-each. But we have got to punish a bit more."

There was a mild scolding for Danny Teague when he added, "I was disappointed about the straight red card. We don't want indiscipline.

"The two games we have lost this year we have lost two men in them and in the modern game it's not often you see 14 men beat 15."

They will need everyone on the pitch for next Sunday in Pearse Park against Longford.

FERMANAGH: P Cadden; M Jones, C Cullen, C McManus; B Mulrone 0-1, K Connor, D McCusker; E Donnelly, R Jones; J McMahon, C Corrigan, A Breen 0-1; P McCusker, C Jones, Seamus Quigley 0-5f

Subs: T Corrigan for Jones (31), D Teague for P McCusker (44), E Maguire for McManus (48), R Corrigan for C Corrigan (64)

Yellow cards: C Jones (18), Breen (55, 61), Seamus Quigley (75)

Black cards: 0

Red cards: Teague (57), Breen (61)

ARMAGH: B Hughes; P Burns, B Donaghy, O Lappin; R Kennedy, G McCabe, C Vernon; S Sheridan 0-1, N Grimley 0-1; B Crealey, A Forker 0-1, C Watters; R Grugan 0-3, 2f, A Murnin, O MacÍomhair 0-1

Subs: N Rowland for Lappin (h-time), A Findon for Sheridan (40 - Black card replacement), A Duffy for Watters (46), R Lappin for Kennedy (53), M Stevenson for O MacÍomhair (70)

Yellow cards: Crealey (35), Burns (35, 73), Grimley (36), Forker (39), Vernon (52)

Black cards: Sheridan (38)

Red cards: Burns (73)

Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry).

Belfast Telegraph