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Fermanagh cup dream ends in a thriller

Fermanagh 3-16 - Longford 3-18

By Pat Smith

Fermanagh's quest for an inaugural Lory Meagher Cup hurling success continues, after the Erne County succumbed to a two-point loss in the final at Croke Park.

A strong third quarter provided the basis for this Longford win, in a game which saw Eoin Donnellan score 1-9 for the Midlanders, with his goal coming at a crucial stage in the 57th minute.

Donnellan's strike pushed Longford six points in front, and although Fermanagh failed to throw in the towel and delivered a gutsy finish, with Declan McGarry completing his hat-trick in injury-time, Longford stood firm to hold out for victory.

Both sides finished the game with 14 men, with Fermanagh defender Daniel Teague picking up a second yellow card in the 51st minute, while Longford's Conor Egan picked up a straight red card nine minutes later, following an off the ball incident.

Fermanagh manager Seamus McCusker felt his side failed to put away their chances when they had them during a dominant first-half display in Saturday's showdown.

"I think it cost us the start we had," he said.

"We had six wides in the first 15 minutes and I think that came back to haunt us, but in fairness the better team won on the day," he added.

McGarry's first two goals inside the opening 15 minutes provided the basis for Fermanagh's early lead, and they held a 2-3 to 0-5 lead when he smashed home his second.

However that lead was reduced to a point by the interval, with Donnellan very impressive from frees.

Longford upped their game in the second half, with Joe O'Brien netting a goal inside three minutes of the restart.

Longford moved five points clear with 20 minutes remaining, before Fermanagh then lost Teague and although McGarry completed his hat-trick late on, Longford still managed to hold out for victory.

Longford: P Cullen; C Egan, B Stakem, K Murray; P Corcoran, C Flanagan; R Donnellan, J Casey (0-1); D Tanner, E Donnellan (1-9, 1-7f, 0-1 '65), M Coyle, K Connelly (0-2); J O'Brien (2-2), C Mullane (0-3), J Newman (0-1). Subs: G Ghee for Newman (41); C Kavanagh for Corcoran (65); T Stakem for Donnellan (72).

Fermanagh: M Curry; D Teague, E Morrissey, F Bannon; M Teague, M Slevin, JP McGarry; R Bogue (0-1), F McBrien (0-1); J Duffy (0-1), B McGarry, A Breslin; S Corrigan (0-10, 8f, 1 '65), D McGarry (3-1, 1-0f), C Corrigan (0-1). Subs: S Curran (0-1) for Bannon (41); B Duffy for B McGarry (55); M Beggan for McBrien (69).

Referee: James Clarke (Cavan).

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