Fermanagh 0-15 Longford 0-8
A power-packed first half from the impressive home side pushed them to a deserved victory over Longford in a real game of two halves in Ederney.
The physically powerful winners led by 0-11 to 0-6 at the break, inspired by big performances from the towering Darragh McGurn, Ultan Kelm and the accurate Sean Quigley who finished with 0-7 from frees.
O’Byrne Cup winners Longford struggled with the sheer power and pace of the home side while experienced Erne full-back Che Cullen nullified the threat of Longford full-forward duo of David McGivney and Dessie Reynolds.
Though the Erne side was on top in the middle of the park where they used the breaking ball to great effect, they hit eight wides in a patchy second half where they had the majority of possession. Not that it mattered, ultimately, as they eased their way home.
Fermanagh had a bright start and eased into a 0-2 to 0-0 lead by the 4th minute, one which was cancelled by similar efforts from David McGivney and Dylan Farrell.
That set the scene for a high scoring first half where the sides were level on three occasions.
Marksman Sean Quigely and Ryan Lyons pushed them to a 0-5 to 0-3 lead by the end of the first quarter as an outgunned Longford side relied mainly on McGivney to keep in touch.
But they spurned a great goal chance when a bad Erne kick out went straight to Longford wing forward Mickey Quinn, only for his shot to shave the post in the 16th minute.
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Fermanagh were dominating midfield and the Longford defence was struggling to cope with the power and pace of Kelm and the impressive Darragh McGurn, who hit the point of the half after a great solo.
Longford dangerman Dessie Reynolds did spark to life and set up the nippy Iarla O’Sullivan for a point in the 18th minute, but it was all Fermanagh who looked fitter and sharper with Quigley and Johnny Cassidy easing them into a 0-11 to 0-6 half-time lead.
The scoring rate dropped dramatically in a poor quality second half that saw a total of five points scored.
Quigley’s earlier accuracy seemed to desert him as he hit five wides, but an outgunned Longford failed to profit on the Ernesider’s bout of misfiring, the home side easeing through for a vital and a comfortable victory.
Fermanagh: Sean McNally; Ché Cullen Luke Flanagan, Cian McManus (0-1); Ronan McCaffrey, Jonathan Cassidy (0-1), Shane McGullion; Ryan Jones (0-1), Brandon Horan; Josh Largo Ellis, Ryan Lyons (0-1), Sean Cassidy (0-1); Darragh McGurn (0-2) Ultan Kelm (0-1) Sean Quigley (0-7, seven frees).
Subs: Tommy McCafffrey for Sean Cassidy (50 mins), Ciaran Corrigan for Ryan Lyons (52), Garret Cavanagh for Che Cullen (57) Aidan Breen for Darragh McGurn (67), Fionan O’Brien for Josh Largo Ellis (72)
Longford: Patrick Collum; Patrick Fox, Andrew Farrell, Barry O’Farrell; Ryan Moffet, Gary Rogers, Iarla O’Sullivan (0-2); Darren Gallagher, Fergal Sheridan; Michael Quinn, Daniel Mimnagh, Dylan Farrell (0-1, one free) Keelin McGann (0-1) David McGivney (0-4, four frees), Dessie Reynolds.
Subs: Aaron Farrell for Dylan Farrell (33 mins), James McGivney for Michael Quinn (43), Peter Lynn for Gary Rogers (44), P J Masterson for Ryan Moffett (55), Robbie Smyth for Keelin McGann
Referee: John Gilmartin (Sligo)