Antrim leave Fermanagh high and dry
Stunning first half performance from Antrim enough to see them through
Antrim’s Conor Small celebrates after scoring a goal against Fermanagh. Photograph: Jonathan Porter/Inpho
Antrim will now take on Donegal in the Ulster football semi-final after fairly well stunning Fermanagh at Brewster Park, although rarely will championship scores come as easy as they did here.
It was open football in the slightly more abandoned senses, allowing a flurry of scores from start to finish that rarely let up, at least for Antrim. With Kevin Niblock showing the way up front with 1-2, and Brian Neeson and Tomas McCann not far behind, Liam Bradley’s team were certainly deserved winners.
Former All Star full back Barry Owens did give the home team some hope late on with a smashing goal that brought them back to within six points, but like their first half showing, it was too little too late, as was substitute Marty O’Brien, who hit Fermanagh’s third goal in injury time, in vain too.
Indeed towards the end of the first half it seemed almost certain that Antrim only had to show up for the second half to earn their way through, going ahead 1-10 to 0-1 inside the opening 30 minutes with a run of scores that Fermanagh had no way of stopping.
Brian Neeson hit 1-3, while the McCann brothers Michael, Paul and Tomas all hit 0-2 each, while Fermanagh could only watch in wonder in that opening half hour.
Then, having not scored since the opening minute, Fermanagh hit back with 1-5 in the last five minutes of the half, Sean Quigley getting his first on a high ball to score the goal, while captain Eoin Donnelly and Paul McCusker also added points from play.
So, from being 12 points in front, Antrim had been cut back down to just five, and with that at least giving Fermanagh something to play for in the second half. Just not for victory.
Antrim: 1 P Flood; 2 K O’Boyle, 3 R Johnston; 4 N Delargy; 5 M Johnson, 6 J Crozier, 7 J Laverty; 8 M McCann (0-2), 9 N McKeever; 10 C Murray, 11 M Sweeney, 12 P McCann (0-2); 13 B Neeson (1-06, one free), 14 K Niblock (1-2), 15 T McCann(0-3, two frees). Subs: M Armstrong for Murray (19 mins, black card), 19 P McBride for Laverty (37 mins, black card), 25 R Murray (0-2) for P McCann (40 mins), 21 for Sweeney (66 mins)
Fermanagh: 1 C Snow; 2 J Woods, 14 B Owens (1-0), 3 C Cullen; 5 D McCusker, 6 R McCluskey, 7 T McElroy; 8 E Donnelly (0-1), 9 R O’Callaghan; 12 P McCusker (0-3), 11 R Jones, 4 L Cullen; 10 E Maguire (0-1), 13 S Quigley (1-6, five frees), 24 P Ward (0-1, one free). Subs: 22 M O’Brien (1-1) for Woods (12 mins, inj), 17 A Breen Ward, 21 M Murphy for Cullen (both 44 mins), 26 R Corrigan for P McCuster (52 mins), 18 B Mulrone for C Cullen (54 mins),
Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down)