Fermanagh 1-21 Antrim 0-11
They won’t get it so easy no matter who they play next weekend, but Fermanagh made short work of Antrim in Enniskillen to move a step closer to their stated aim to play football in August.
When they played Antrim five weeks ago, Fermanagh won by eight points but Sean Quigley failed to score from play.
In Brewster Park yesterday, he landed a 14-point haul, including a magnificent seven points from play, to book the county’s place in Monday morning’s third-round draw.
Defender Marty O’Brien scored the only goal of the game in the 54th minute but the game was already over by half-time with Fermanagh leading 0-11 to 0-5.
Antrim were desperately poor, which makes you wonder how bad Laois were if the Saffrons were able to turn them over at home a fortnight ago.
Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath was urging caution afterwards, fully aware that the scoreline flattered his team.
“We are very gratified by the quality of football today, but we realise the next game is going to be a sterner, more challenging test.
“Over the length and breadth of the country, people are not going to be quaking in their boots about Fermanagh.
“If people make us favourites, it’s not something we are used to, but it’s something we are getting better at dealing with.”
McGrath added that his star forward Quigley can expect "a bit more attention" next time out after thoroughly enjoying himself on a day when everything went right.
The sides were level three times early on with Owen Gallagher’s chipped point putting Antrim ahead for the only time in the game at 0-3 to 0-2 after eight minutes.
However, they failed to score for the next 23 minutes as Fermanagh took control.
Fermanagh hit seven points in row with Barry Mulrone, Paul McCusker and Niall Cassidy on target from play while Quigley was clinical from placed balls.
It looked ominous for Antrim when they trailed by 0-9 to 0-3 but former AFL Brisbane Lions player Niall McKeever made an impact when brought on, pointing with his first touch in the 31st minute to end the scoring drought.
Paul McCusker drew a point-blank save from Antrim goalkeeper Chris Kerr in the first real goal chance of the game and Quigley nailed the '45' to stretch the lead out to six at the interval.
The Saffrons brought on CJ McGourty to add some sparkle to their attack and he contributed 0-3 in the second half, including one finely struck left-footed effort while off balance.
But, inevitably, it was Quigley who continued to dominate with a point just 17 seconds after the restart.
He nailed his fourth from play three minutes later with a superb effort with the outside of his boot before Mark Sweeney got Antrim's first of the second half to leave it 0-13 to 0-6.
Quigley continued his rampage on the Antrim full-back line, scoring freely from play with feet and fist with the visitors struggling to stay in the game.
O’Brien found himself in the scoring zone after a mazy run and drilled the ball high into the roof of the net for the game’s only goal, to put Fermanagh 1-17 to 0-9 ahead after 54 minutes and the final quarter was a non-event with the game long over as a contest.
Antrim manager Frankie Fitzsimons had no explanation for why his team crashed and burned to such a degree.
“We came out very flat and I don’t understand.
“The last day we came out buzzing. I have no answer to it.
“The players will be the first to admit we were poor. There is no way of glossing over it.
“Of course I’m hurting, I’m an Antrim man. It was one of those days when we didn’t show up.”
FERMANAGH: T Treacy; M Jones, T Daly, N Cassidy (0-1); D McCusker, J McMahon, M O'Brien (1-0); E Donnelly, R O'Callaghan; B Mulrone (0-1), R Jones, D Kelly; P McCusker (0-1), S Quigley (0-14, five frees, two 45s), T Corrigan (0-1).
Subs: D Kille (0-1) for Corrigan (18 mins), C Jones (0-1) for D McCusker (60 mins), A Breen for O'Brien (63 mins), C Cullen for O'Callaghan (67 mins), S McManus (0-1) for Quigley (70 mins).
ANTRIM: C Kerr (0-1, 45); N Delargy, S McVeigh, J Laverty; J Crozier (0-1), T Scullion, R Johnston; C Murray, B Hasson; D Lynch, D McAleese, M Pollock (0-3, one free); M Sweeney (0-1), R Murray, O Gallagher (0-1).
Subs: N McKeever (0-1) for Lynch (28 mins), CJ McGourty (0-3, one free) for McAleese (half-time), J Dowling for Hasson (47 mins), R McGrady for McVeigh (51 mins), N O'Neill for Gallagher (59 mins), C Duffin for R Murray (61 mins)
Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry).