Monaghan 1-21 Fermanagh 0-14
Monaghan got Fermanagh off their plate after feasting hungrily for a while.
However, a sour aftertaste, or fishbone caught in the throat came in the form of Darren Hughes prior to half time, and Conor McManus in injury time, having to be removed from the pitch with nasty looking injuries that will require some attention before their Ulster semi-final.
With 10 points in it this time, further attention will be spent on fretting for the future of the provincial championships. Monaghan are an elite team and have been since Malachy O’Rourke brought them back into Division One seven years ago, but they have not been above being caught by their neighbours when it comes to summer championship.
For that to happen, however, Fermanagh need to be prepared and at a certain cycle in their development. Right now they have a fleet of young guns who have not been allowed to develop in the traditional way of Dr McKenna Cup and league games over the last two years.
They also have a number of stay-away players that manager Ryan McMenamin is not prepared to butter up.
“Look it is up to themselves. Lee and Che Cullen are away working,” he explained.
“But at the same time, I am not going to chase anybody to come back. I have enough on my plate without going around chasing boys to play for Fermanagh.
“You either want to play for Fermanagh or you don’t and that is the way I look at it. I don’t see Brian Dooher chasing anyone to play for Tyrone so I am not going to do it for Fermanagh.”
But Fermanagh is not Tyrone and he might have plenty of time to reflect on that stance when he reviews the tape of this game.
Monaghan saw Fermanagh coming from a mile off. Even with two sweepers in Luke Flanagan and James McMahon, their neighbours overwhelmed them by committing bodies forward. In the end, four of the back seven got on the scoresheet and it was another, Kieran Duffy, who let fly with a big shot on 18 minutes that Fermanagh goalkeeper Sean McNally did brilliantly to get a strong left hand to, but Jack McCarron hungrily followed in the rebound, skittling a couple of Erne defenders in doing so.
1-4 to 0-2 up at that stage, 1-11 to 0-7 up by the break, Monaghan just concerned themselves with keeping two hands on the wheel from then on. The resistance was puny. The gap is growing between the elite and everyone else.
Monaghan: 1. R Beggan (0-1 '45'); 2. K Duffy, 3. C Boyle (0-1), 4. R Wylie (0-1); 5. K O'Connell (0-1), 6. D Ward (0-1), 7. R McAnespie; 8. D Hughes, 9. K Lavelle (0-1); 10. S O'Hanlon, 11. C McCarthy (0-1m), 12. M Bannigan (0-2); 13. A Mulligan (0-3), 14. J McCarron (1-2, 2f), 15. C McManus (0-4, 2f, 1m).
Subs: 22. N Kearns (0-1) for D Hughes (33 mins), 19. C Walshe (0-2, 1m) for McCarron (51 mins), 20. S Carey for O'Hanlon (56 mins), 24. K Hughes for McCarthy (63 mins), 21. F Kelly for O'Connell (68 mins), 18. K McMenamin for Lavelle (77 mins).
Fermanagh: 1. S McNally; 2. K Connor, 3. J Cassidy (0-1), 4. L Flanagan; 5. D McCusker, 6. J McMahon, 7. K McDonnell; 8. S McGullion, 9. E Donnelly; 10. C Corrigan (0-1), 21. C McManus, 12. J Largo-Ellis (0-1); 23. U Kelm (0-1), 14. D McGurn (0-1), 15. S Quigley (0-7, 5f, 1x'45').
Subs: 22. A Breen (0-2) for McDonnell (26 mins), 17. R O'Callaghan for McGurn (42 mins), 20. S Cassidy for McManus (59 mins), 11. T Bogue for McMahon (65 mins), 19. M McCauley for McGullion (65 mins).
Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry).