Redemption time as Fermanagh ease to title triumph
Derry 0-11 Fermanagh 2-09
Fermanagh finally got their hands on an all Ireland ladies title on Sunday as they eased to a comfortable four-point win over Derry in the junior final replay.
The drawn game had witnessed Fermanagh come back from nine points down to salvage the draw, but in all honesty they never looked in real danger yesterday.
So often Fermanagh, well marshalled at the back and effective up front, were able to bottle up the Derry attack and open them up, with space at a premium on St Tiernachs Park.
To their credit Derry did battle hard, coming back from five down at one stage to sit just two points shy of the Ernesiders by the break. They drew level with 41 minutes played but Joanne Doonan's goal moments later was the killer blow.
Lisa Maguire, Eimear Smyth and Sharon Murphy had tagged on points for Fermanagh before Megan Devine's stinging shot had shaved the Erne post at the other end.
The first goal came from Fermanagh though, a great run from Shauna Hamilton teed up Blathin Bogue and she made no mistake.
Derry points from their top scorer Emma Doherty, Jackie Donnelly and Annie Crozier left it a two-point game.
Doherty points levelled matters after the break before Doonan dropped her effort over Cheree Mackey and Fermanagh pulled away roared on by a large support amongst the 5,000-plus crowd.
Looking clinical in attack and assured at the back they seemed to grow stronger, skipper Aine McGovern landed a powerful point and Sharon Murphy, who had salvaged the replay with a last-gasp penalty goal in the drawn game, rattled the crossbar with a powerful drive and Derry could only partially clear the danger. Murphy did manage to tag on a point though.
In the closing stages Derry found themselves in some great positions without being able to convert the chances their intricate build-up play deserved, they carried the ball into the scoring zone but without end product as the Erne defence rallied, Hamilton, Courtney Murphy and Maria Connolly so solid.
Fermanagh have suffered heartbreak in the past, losing in the 2009 and 2014 intermediate finals, so for manager Emmett Curry and his players this is real redemption. From the despair of a thumping at the hands of Leitrim last year they have finally reached the promised land.
Derry's long wait continues - how they will rue that game at Croke Park, what might have been.
Scorers for Derry: Emma Doherty 0-6, Ciara Moore, Jackie Donnelly, Annie Crozier, Ciara McGurk & Aoife Laverty 0-1 each.
Scorers for Fermanagh: Sharon Murphy 0-4, Bláithín Bogue & Joanne Doonan 1-0 each, Eimear Smyth & Lisa Maguire 0-2 each, Aine McGovern 0-1.
Derry: C Mackey; A McGough, D Donnelly, C Glass; N Browne, K Holly, D Kivlehan; A Laverty, Emma Doherty; J Donnelly, C Moore, Erin Doherty; A Crozier, M Devine, C McGurk. Subs: Aimee Glasgow for Ciara Moore (20), Rachel McAllister for Nuala Browne (24), Catherine Fletcher for Erin Doherty (48), Rhianna Curran for Annie Crozier (57).
Fermanagh: R Gleeson; J Doonan, C Murphy, N McManus; M Connolly, S Hamilton, A Maguire; M McDonald, A McGovern; R O'Reilly, A Woods, L Maguire; E Smyth, S Murphy, B Bogue. Subs: Nuala McManus for Bláithín Bogue (45), Danielle McManus for Roisin O'Reilly (50), Erin Murphy for Maria Connolly (58).
Referee: Kevin Corcoran (Mayo).