Ulster Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final
Fermanagh 0-12 Armagh 0-7
Kieran McGeeney is still waiting for his first win as manager in the Ulster Championship, four years after taking sole control of Armagh.
It was a dispiriting display for the visitors in Brewster Park only yielding a mere two points from play as Rory Gallagher had Fermanagh primed for this battle.
Fermanagh won by sheer steel and determination, married to a serious game plan. They will meet Monaghan in the semi-final and will give them a stiff test.
When Armagh had possession, they faced an organised Fermanagh defence and only notched two from play in the opening half, though they should have had a third when Aidan Forker’s shot late in the half appeared to go over, but was waved wide by the umpires.
For the first time in 22 years, Armagh had a Championship panel without a single representative of Crossmaglen Rangers. The injury to Paul Hughes denied him his place, but they also had injury concerns over captain, Rory Grugan, and Ethan Rafferty.
For the throw-in, Grugan made way for Rafferty and while the Grange man is a formidable physical presence, they could have been doing with Grugan’s subtle and clever passing.
Mark Shields was dangerous going forward and hit their first and Rafferty got the second. What was apparent in this, the third meeting of the sides in the last two months, is that they had each other’s game sussed out to a tee.
The difference lay in who could tailor their game sufficiently. While Armagh full-forward Andrew Murnin was a handful for Che Cullen in the Allianz Football League Division Three League Final, Gallagher switched the limpet-like Mickey Jones onto him from the start.
After going in 0-6 to 0-4 down at the break, Armagh had to wait ages for Fermanagh to emerge for the second half. Niall Grimley was sent off following a collision with Sean Quigley with Seamus Quigley adding the resultant free.
Further points followed from Lee Cullen and Seamus Quigley from play, while Quigley finally found his scoring range from frees, three of them in the second half opening a five point gap that carried them through here.
Scorers for Fermanagh: Sean Quigley 0-6 (5fs), R Jones 0-2, B Mulrone, L Cullen, D McCusker, and Sean Quigley 0-1 each
Scorers for Armagh: R Grugan 0-3 (3fs), E Rafferty 0-2 (1f), M Shields and G McParland (f) 0-1 each.
FERMANAGH: Patrick Cadden; Kane Connor, Che Cullen, Michael Jones; Barry Mulrone, James McMahon, Lee Cullen; Eoin Donnelly, Ryan Jones; Paul McCusker, Declan McCusker, Aidan Breen; Sean Quinley, Conall Jones, Seamus Quigley.
Subs: Ciaran Corrigan for Sean Quigley (57), Daniel Teague for P McCusker (63), Eamonn Maguire for Breen (66), Cain McManus for Connor (72), Tom Clarke for C Jones (74).
ARMAGH: Blaine Hughes; Patrick Burns, Connaire Mackin, Aaron McKay; Charlie Vernon, Gregory McCabe, Aidan Forker; Brendan Donaghy, Niall Grimley; Ryan McShane, Mark Shields, Ben Crealey; Gavin McParland, Andrew Murnin, Ethan Rafferty.
Subs: Niall Rowland for Crealey (31), Joe McElroy for Mackin (44), Rory Grugan for McParland (47), Jemar Hall for McShane (51), Eamon McGeown for Rafferty (61), Aaron Findon for Grugan (BC – 74).
REFEREE: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon).