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Smyth points Fermanagh to promotion


Close attention: Aisling O’Brien of Fermanagh takes on Orla Corr
Close attention: Aisling O’Brien of Fermanagh takes on Orla Corr
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Fermanagh manager Johnny Garrity is looking forward to the challenge of guiding his team's fortunes in Division Three of the Lidl Ladies National Football League next season following their Division Four final triumph over Antrim at the weekend.

Not for the first time the prolific Eimear Smyth proved the ace in the Erne county's attack by helping herself to 1-6, with her goal coming in the opening minute and the winning point from a free in the closing moments.

"It was maybe not a vintage performance from the team but it's all about winning," reflected Garrity. "We got over the line in the end after Antrim had been in the lead at half-time. We managed to finish strongly and this stood to us."

Smyth's goal after just 15 seconds had appeared to be the precursor to a Fermanagh scoring blitz but instead it was Antrim who seized the initiative with skipper Saoirse Tennyson and Cathy Carey proving driving forces.

It was Tennyson who temporarily discomfited the Erne outfit when she smacked in a spectacular goal that helped to give her side a 1-6 to 1-5 interval advantage.

Carey's opportunism eased Antrim into an even more comfortable position but Fermanagh hauled themselves back into the game when Roisin O'Reilly powered through to fire a great shot to the Antrim net.

Taking their inspiration from this score, Fermanagh stepped up the tempo and points from Maria Cooper and Mairiosa McGourty were to prove crucial in steering them to a one-point victory that now opens a new era for the county.

"Promotion was always our target and to have achieved it in the manner we did has been very satisfying," said manager Garrity.

In the Division Three final, Meath proved too strong for Sligo and won by 4-11 to 1-7. The bulk of the Royal County's scoring came from Kelsey Nesbitt (2-0), Stacey Grimes (1-4) and Emma Duggan (1-2).

Meanwhile, the death has occurred of former Offaly All-Ireland winning manager Eugene McGee. The Longford native was the manager of the Faithful County when they famously stopped Kerry's Sam Maguire Cup five-in-a-row bid in 1982.

In the seventies he guided UCD to six Sigerson Cup, two Dublin SFC and back-to-back All-Ireland club titles and also managed Cavan as well as local clubs in Longford such as Newtowncashel and Colmcille.

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