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Gallagher insists grafting was the key to victory while O'Rourke has few complaints

By John Campbell

Rory Gallagher's beaming countenance said it all. The Fermanagh manager lounged in the players' tunnel at Healy Park, the picture of contentment as he digested one of the most heroic performances the Ulster Championship has served up for some time.

"We're very happy with the way the game went from our point of view," said Gallagher, "Monaghan are seen as one of the top four or five teams and we are not seen as coming from that level. We felt though that they might have a small bit of vulnerability to a high ball coming in. Eoin Donnelly was out on his feet so we said we would put him in and he did the business for us."

Fermanagh's bright start may have provided encouragement but Gallagher felt his side should perhaps have had a better return from the first half.

"I thought the way we kept Monaghan scoreless and the way in which we took our own scores was good but to be only two points up at the halfway stage was disappointing," stated Gallagher.

"We knew Monaghan would come back at us. I have plenty of experience of them over the past seven years or so I wasn't surprised when they came on strongly."

"But I think our policy of grafting, grafting, grafting paid off in the end. I thought it was always going to be very difficult but I felt if we kept plugging away something might happen. In the end it did and thank God for that."

Gallagher also confirmed that there had been "an incident" which forced him to omit Seamus Quigley, who had been outstanding in the quarter-final defeat of Armagh, from yesterday's line-up.

The Roslea clubman was due to take his place at left full-forward but did not play any part in the game.

Gallagher revealed that he will come back into the selection reckoning for the Ulster final against Down or Donegal.

Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke, meanwhile, was left shellshocked at the finish. His side appeared to have one foot in the semi-final only to suddenly find themselves consigned to the qualifiers.

"It's hard to take positives from a defeat like this," declared O'Rourke.

"We would not have been happy with the way in which we played. We tried to force things and that did not work for us. We knew that Fermanagh would keep at us and that's how it turned out. We can't have any complaints really at the end of the day."

Eoin Donnelly's name will certainly be up in lights in Fermanagh over the next few weeks but the modest team skipper played down his match-winning goal that sparked ecstatic celebrations immediately after the game.

Healy Park was transformed into a sea of green and Donnelly was the prime target for the fans' adulation.

And his goal was the understandably a hot topic.

"I managed to get a hand to the ball but it could just as easily have gone over the bar or it could have gone out of play. We got a rub of the green and it went into the net.

Luck was certainly on our side but I think we earned our luck because Healy Park is a big pitch, it was a sweltering hot day and Monaghan are a fantastic side," said Donnelly.

"It was never going to be an easy game. You won't get to a final unless you absolutely empty the tank. I think in this game all the boys put in a huge effort and left everything out there on the pitch."

Donnelly will now have the rare honour of leading a Fermanagh side into Ulster final battle against either Down or Donegal on June 24.

"In years gone by, Monaghan have been able to roll on boys from the bench and kick on in the second half when we played them, but on this occasion thankfully we were able to hold out," added Donnelly.

"We were able to nullify some of their key players and that was a big help to us. While we are looking forward to the Ulster final now we know it will be a very tough challenge no matter who we meet.

"It will be heads down for the next three weeks as far as we are concerned."

Belfast Telegraph

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