Gallagher looking up after Quigley shows his class
Fermanagh 3-7 Wexford 2-5
Two first half goals from Seamus Quigley, arriving somewhat fortuitously, were enough to give Fermanagh a deserved victory in Rory Gallagher's first meaningful contest back in his home county and edge a bad-tempered game that was left spicy until the closing moments.
With 49 frees, 10 yellow cards, three reds, a black card and Erne selector Ryan McMenamin sent to the stand in the closing moments after a dangerous looking sideline row, it could be said that Mayo referee Liam Devenney wore the nub of his pencil down throughout the afternoon.
Fermanagh will come up against tougher tests than this in the division, and their brand of running football was never allowed to develop on a boggy pitch. But nonetheless, Gallagher was delighted with the poaching instincts of Roslea man Quigley.
"That's his game, him and Conall (Jones), they hang in around the square. I didn't think either of them were close to their best by their standards but they hung in there and they got the goals for us."
In a tight looking third tier, Fermanagh look to have the organisation and personnel to push other Ulster hopefuls Armagh and Derry all the way for promotion.
They held Wexford to a single point here in the first half, arriving as it did from Daithi Waters' left boot three minutes into added on time.
Despite hitting seven wides in the opening half, Rory Gallagher's men pressed Pa Doyle's kick-out to great effect, winning seven of his 12 first half restarts.
For a time it looked like their efforts were in vain with Danny Teague and Ryan Lyons sending shots wide after winning three consecutive kick-outs, but then a Declan McCusker effort came off the post and Wexford full back Mark O'Neill dropped the rebound, before Quigley fastened to finish along the ground to the net to give Fermanagh a 1-3 to 0-2 cushion, the Leinster side's two points coming from Donal Shanley frees.
After this, Gallagher was able to re-introduce Eamonn Maguire for his first county action since 2014, 15 seasons on since his blistering debut season when he was a large part of them reaching an All-Ireland semi-final replay.
The second goal arrived after a move going the full length of the pitch. The ball was worked to Conall Jones who let fly and while his shot was off target, it dropped short to where Eoin Donnelly had taken up a position on the end line to keep the ball in play with his fist, and the loose ball was finished again soccer-style by Quigley.
A few things were given a try-out here, not least the two times in two minutes that goalkeeper Pat Cadden was brought up to take frees to suit a left footed kicker from the hands, both of which he put wide.
After Fermanagh going in 2-4 to 0-3 up at the break, Wexford nabbed a goal back when a high ball in beat the sweeper system and Nick Doyle caught the ball above Che Cullen's head before turning and firing home.
Two minutes later though, Fermanagh grabbed the momentum back. Substitute Paul McCusker went for a point, Pa Doyle made a handling error and when the ball ran free Conall Jones got a shot off the floor that flew into the top corner of the net.
It was 23 minutes before they added to that tally however, Ryan Jones' red card on 50 minutes leaving Wexford with a numerical advantage that they made count - Jones' absence from the middle hugely telling.
The Slaneysiders got their second goal when a little over-indulgence among the back line left Kane Connor pawing for a loose pass. Craig McCabe got to the ball, transferred to Tiernan Rossiter and they narrowed the gap to four points.
Aidan Breen broke the Fermanagh drought, who by then had Ryan McCluskey - now officially the longest-serving inter-county player having joined the squad 19 seasons ago - back to offer his calm assurance among the back line.
"Definitely unhappy with the goals we gave away, I don't think the goals we scored were things of beauty either," offered Gallagher after the team's de-briefing.
"It was workmanlike and there was good effort and things like that, but our finishing and things like that left a lot to be desired." FERMANAGH: P Cadden; K Connor 0-1, C Cullen, C McManus; J McMahon, L Cullen, D McCusker; E Donnelly, R Jones 0-3; R Lyons, B Mulrone, A Breen 0-1; D Teague, C Jones 1-0, Seamus Quigley 2-1, 1f
Subs: E Maguire for Teague 30mins, P McCusker 0-1 for Lyons 43mins, M Jones for Seamus Quigley 53mins, Sean Quigley for L Cullen 59mins, R McCluskey for McMahon 63mins, C McGee for Maguire 66mins
Yellow cards: Teague 27mins, C Cullen 50mins, C Jones 75mins
Black cards: Sean Quigley 73mins
Red cards: R Jones 51mins
WEXFORD: P Doyle; M Furlong, M O'Neill, J Rossiter; G Malone, B Malone, B O'Gorman; D Waters 0-1, N Doyle 1-1; T Rossiter 1-0, B O'Connor, D Shanley 0-2f; P Curtis, E Nolan, C McCabe
Subs: S Byrne for O'Connor, C Carty for O'Gorman both H-Time, R Frayne for Shanley 42mins, C Devereux 0-1 for McCabe 55mins, D Holmes for Nolan 58mins, M Rossiter for Curtis 63mins
Yellow cards: O'Connor 25mins, Doyle 50 mins, Nolan 52mins, T Rossiter 55 & 65mins, Carty 61mins, Waters 73mins
Black cards: 0
Red cards: T Rossiter 65mins, Malone 70mins
Referee: Liam Devenney (Mayo)