Fermanagh hurlers suffered a second final defeat in three years in the Lory Meagher Cup as Longford got the upper hand against an Erne side who gave it their all in the excellent surroundings of Croke Park last Saturday afternoon.
Longford’s Joe O’Brien and Daniel Teague of Fermanagh battle for the sliotar.
Fermanagh’s Declan McGarry finished the game with 3-01 to his name while corner forward Sean Corrigan bagged 0-10 in a game that saw six goals, two red cards and a nail biting finish that went right to the wire.
At the end of all the drama, Fermanagh were defeated by two points as they had to endure more Lory Meagher heartbreak following the narrow defeat to Tyrone two years ago.
Longford, themselves, were defeated in the 2013 final and started the game the brighter with two opening points coming in the fourth and sixth minutes from Cathal Mullane before Fermanagh struck for the opening goal in the ninth minute when a Declan McGarry free from the sideline seemed to deceive the Longford goalkeeper Paddy Cullen and ended up in the back of the net to give Fermanagh an early advantage.
John Duffy then did well to play in Sean Corrigan before Longford’s John Newman and Kevin Connolly both replied with two fine solo efforts to make it 1-02 to 0-04 after 15 minutes.
Francie McBrien and Kevin Connolly exchanged scores before McGarry once again bagged himself a terrific goal, this time however Brendan McGarry did superbly in setting up Declan McGarry who made no mistake with his effort to put Fermanagh four clear.
An Eoin Donnellan free reduced matters while Fermanagh’s Sean Corrigan fired over a free in a game in which Cavan whistler James Clarke was ruling by the firm letter of the law.
Longford’s Joe O’Brien pointed in the 22nd minute before Eoin Donnellan fired over a 65 after an outrageous save from Fermanagh’s goalkeeper Mark Curry.
Ryan Bogue then fired over after a storming run in which the score was given by ‘Hawkeye’, while at the other end Longford’s Joe O’Brien ghosted in for a goal despite the frantic attempts of Mark Curry and Danny Teague on the line to make it 2-05 to 1-08 in a tense encounter.
Another Sean Corrigan free and a John Duffy free had Fermanagh ahead by two with Donnellan once again replying for Longford from his own free to make it 2-07 to 1-09.
John Duffy then scored a superb individual score as he struck from the Cusack stand side from well over 40 yards while once again Donnellan replied with a free for Longford but it was Fermanagh who went in leading at half time 2-08 to 1-10.
Longford started the second half in blistering fashion scoring 1-04 inside six minutes to really stretch their lead in the game for the first time. An Eoin Donnellan free started them off before Joe O’Brien pointed and the same player was then played in and delightfully steered the sliotar to the net for a goal as Mark Curry came off his line.
A Sean Corrigan free was Fermanagh’s quick response but once again Longford added points through Eoin Donnellan (2) to move 2-14 to 2-09 ahead.
Danny Teague and Andrew Breslin were working hard in defence with the latter playing a delightful pass to John Duffy before he was upended and Sean Corrigan tapped over the free to make it a four point game.
Fermanagh substitute Shea Curran then fired over from 35 yards after being set up by John Duffy but once again Fermanagh were giving away needless frees and Eoin Donnellan in the 48th minute once again tapped it over the bar to make it 2-15 to 2-11.
Donnellan was again on hand a minute later with another free before Fermanagh were reduced to 14 men as Danny Teague received his marching orders with a straight red card in the 50th minute.
Sean Corrigan replied for Fermanagh with a point and his brother Ciaran then chipped in with a score to give Fermanagh hope in the closing 15 minutes.
Eoin Donnellan then sent in a free from 68 metres out which was missed in the air by the Fermanagh rear-guard and amazingly flew into the net to give Longford a six point advantage with their numerical advantage as well.
From the resulting puck out John Duffy who must have covered every blade of grass in Croke Park caught it and was taking down for a free in which Sean Corrigan tapped over, from the resulting free Longford’s Conor Egan was giving a straight red card for foul language and all of a sudden Fermanagh had their tails up.
Eoin Donnellan however who was clinical all day from frees added another point before Declan McGarry scored a superb point after great defensive work by Fermanagh duo Eoin Morrissey and John Paul McGarry to make it 3-17 to 2-15 in a game in which had it all.
With six minutes remaining Fermanagh had awoken late on just like the Erne footballers six days previous and Declan McGarry’s driving run seen him tripped and Sean Corrigan tapped over to put four between the sides.
Sean Corrigan who was a constant threat all day with his direct running was then foul and Fermanagh’s full forward Declan McGarry duly fired the sliotar to the net from the 20 metre free to make it a one point game in a tense finale.
The much sought after equalising score never materialised as once again Longford’s forwards caused danger in the Erne defence and this seen Eoin Donnellan point to put two between them.
With three minutes of injury time to play Fermanagh’s chance came in the 71st minute when Sean Corrigan was tripped and from the resulting 20 metre free Declan McGarry seen his thunderbolt of a shot stopped on the line as the referee called time and Fermanagh had missed their chance of securing the Lory Meagher Cup in the most cruel of finishes.
Referee – James Clarke (Cavan)
Fermanagh – Mark Curry, Daniel Teague, Eoin Morrisey, Fergus Bannon, Matthew Teague, Mark Slevin, John Paul McGarry, Ryan Bogue 0-01, Francis McBrien 0-01, John Duffy 0-01, Brendan McGarry, Andrew Breslin, Sean Corrigan 0-10, Declan McGarry 3-01, Ciaran Corrigan 0-01.
Subs – Shea Curran 0-01 for Fergus Bannon, Barry Duffy for Brendan McGarry, Martin Beggan for Francis