Meath 2-12 Fermanagh 0-14
A saved Tomas Corrigan penalty and the dismissal of Declan McCusker midway through the second half of this tight encounter at Pairc Tailteann were the crucial turning points as Fermanagh’s brave league campaign ended just short of the league final and promotion.
In the end, Meath won by four points but the Ernemen had played well to lead by a point when handed the chance from the penalty 10 minutes into the second half but the otherwise excellent Tomas Corrigan’s kick was saved by Paddy O’Rourke.
Minutes later, Declan McCusker received a straight red card and was dismissed reducing Fermanagh to 14 men and suddenly the momentum was with home team Meath.
A second Meath goal from substitute Paddy Gilsenan followed and it was a lead they were not to relinquish despite a a couple of frees from Corrigan keeping Fermanagh in touching distance but they could not get the goal they needed for the draw that would have kept Fermanagh in front of Meath and Gilsenan made it a four point game with a late point at the death.
The manner of this defeat will no doubt hurt the players but overall this has been a very positive campaign for Fermanagh and it all augurs well for the championship especially if those injured in the campaign can recover.
Fermanagh were favourites to be relegated from this divison but instead a series of top displays ensued, only losing to Monaghan and Meath, the two teams to finish above them in table.
This game was nip and tuck throughout and Wallace opened the scoring before Tomas Corrigan levelled from a free after which Fermanagh enjoyed the better of things with Ryan Jones striding forward from midfield to knock over two excellent points from play.
This was a good open game and both keepers were called into action when Snow saved well and then at the other end Tommy McElroy’s chance was saved by Paddy O’Rourke.
Meath did kick a few wides before they started to find the mark and a super free from a narrow angle from Michael Newman after which Stephen Bray fired over to level the game at 0-03 each following a lively and even opening.
Fermanagh though have enjoyed a great campaign and enjoyed a great spell as
Paul Ward converted a free and then a trio of points from play fired Fermanagh four clear.
McElroy lofted over confidently, Marty McGrath fired a terrific score and then Tomas Corrigan slipped past his marker to make 0-07 to 0-03.
Meath though were far from out of the game and Byrne fired narrowly wide before Bray made it 0-07 to 0-04.
An all-action first half took another twist when McGrath was adjudged to have fouled Byrne for a penalty and Newman stepped up to level the game with ease at 1-04 to 0-07.
Corrigan edged Fermanagh back in front but Meath were making goal opportunities and a brilliant block on the line from McCluskey from Newman deflected the ball over the bar to make it a level game at the break 1-05 to 0-08.
Meath had the breeze at their back in the second half and took the lead within 30 seconds as Graham Reilly burst forward to point but McElroy quickly replied with a point as he rifled over the bar.
Corrigan then edged Fermanagh in front from a free and then had a glorious chance to put Fermanagh four ahead when Ward was bundled over and Fermanagh had a penalty. However, Corrigan’s kick was saved and a great chance missed.
Newman then kicked a free to level the game in the 47th minute with all up for grabs entering the final quarter of the game and indeed the league campaign.
Disaster then struck for Fermanagh when they were reduced to 14 men when Declan McCusker received a straight red but again they kept fighting and Corrigan fired over a brilliant point to edge them in front again at 0-11 to 1-07.
Reilly replied with an equally superb point and again the sides were level.
A Newman free put Meath ahead and it was a lead they were not to relinquish as a goal from sub Paddy Gilsenan effectively ended this brave Fermanagh campaign.
Corrigan did pull a quick point back and there was three between the teams at 2-09 to 0-12 with 10 to go.
Barry Owens and Conor Quigly were introduced just before Meath’s second goal as Canavan looked to add renewed vigour to the Fermanagh effort.
Bray though edged Meath four ahead before Corrigan made it a three point game with six minutes to go with 14 man Fermanagh needing a goal.
Another Corrigan free left two in it with two minutes to go, however a long range free from Newman was to kill off the Fermanagh chances and Gilsenan rounded off the scoring with the final point of the game as Meath won 2-12 to 0-14.
Meath will now meet Malachy O’Rourke’s Monaghan in the league final at Croke?Park?while the Fermanagh players will no doubt take a bit of a break before concentrating on their championship clash with either Cavan or Armagh on June 16.
Despite this defeat, those preparations will take place with a degree of confidence following an excellent league effort.
Meath: Paddy O’Rourke; Donal Keoghan, Bryan Menton, Caolan Young; Ciaran Lenihan, Kevin Reilly, Davy Dalton; Brian Meade, Conor Gillespie; David Larkin, Graham Reilly (0-02), Peadar Byrne; Eamon Wallace (0-01), Stephen Bray (0-03, Michael Newman (1-05, 4f, 1-00pen).
Subs Paddy Gilsennan (1-01) for Larkin, S. Curran for?Young, B. Farrell for Wallace, J. Sheridan for Byrne
Fermanagh: Chris Snow, Ryan McCluskey, Anthony McGuinness, John Woods, Martin O’Brien, Brian Cox, Declan McCusker, Ryan Jones (0-02), Marty McGrath (0-01), Tommy McElroy (0-02), Shane McCabe, Damian Kelly, Paul Ward (0-01, 1f), Tomas Corrigan (0-08, 6f), Shane Lyons
Barry Owens for McGrath, Conor Quigley for Kelly, Daryl Keenan for McCluskey, Daniel Kille for Ward
This article appeared in Impartial Reporter?07 Apr 13