Armagh stormed to the top of Division Two of the Allianz Football League by hammering Fermanagh in wet and windy conditions at Brewster Park.
Allianz Football League Division 2
Saturday 7 March 2020
ARMAGH 3-14 FERMANAGH 0-10
By Orla Bannon at Brewster Park
Goals by Jamie Clarke, Aidan Nugent and Aidan Forker helped Kieran McGeeney’s move ahead of Roscommon on scoring difference and look very good indeed for promotion to the top flight.
Fermanagh were sliced open with alarming ease time after time and they remain rooted to the bottom of the table and in serious relegation trouble. The Erne players didn’t lose heart but nothing they tried came off and Armagh were vastly superior all over the field, playing with pace and power which they couldn’t contain.
The game was postponed last Sunday due to an unplayable pitch but the conditions in Enniskillen were just as wet and miserable on Saturday night.
Fermanagh, missing four established frontliners from the starting team in Eoin Donnelly, Conall Jones, Che Cullen and Declan McCusker, didn’t have the depth in their squad to cope with a rampaging Armagh side.
The visitors had a dream start after just three minutes, Jamie Clarke showing all his silky skills on a muddy pitch, accepting a pass from Paddy Burns into his chest and turning, side-footing the ball past Erne ‘keeper James McGrath.
Armagh led 1-4 to no score after 24 minutes. Three of those points came from placed balls, Rory Grugan and Clarke scoring frees and Rian O’Neill who made converting a ’45’ off the ground in dreadful conditions look easy.
Stephen McGullion got Fermanagh’s first score in the 25th minute when a half-decent goal chance was rebounded and fell to him.
James McMahon came up from the half-back line to point a lovely score with his left foot to reduce the deficit to five points, 1-4 to 0-2.
That was as good as it got for Fermanagh as Armagh pulled away again, scoring four of the remaining five points before half time.
Aidan Nugent scored two first-half points from play, the second of which came in a lovely flurry of activity for Armagh. Jarly Og Burns floated over a lovely curling point from the wing and Nugent followed within a minute, scoring off his left.
Armagh led 1-8 to 0-3 at half time, the same eight-point lead that they held at the break against Westmeath in Mullingar a fortnight earlier, a game that subsequently ended in a draw after a brilliant Westmeath comeback.
Could Fermanagh stage something similar?
Home hopes were dashed however after 42 minutes when Aidan Forker scored a second Armagh goal.
Oisin O’Neill scored a point and then had a hand in Armagh’s third goal. His attempt at a point dropped short and with Fermanagh slow to react in and around their square, Mark Shields batted down the high ball to Nugent, who tapped home from close range.
Nugent nearly nipped in for his second when sub Jason Duffy slipped him through but he couldn’t keep the shot down and it smacked off the crossbar
Scorers for Armagh: Aidan Nugent 1-2, Rian O’Neill 0-4 (one ’45’), Jamie Clarke 1-1 (f), Aidan Forker 1-0, Oisin O’Neill 0-2, Rory Grugan 0-2 (2f), Jarlath Og Burns, Niall Grimley 0-1, Jason Duffy 0-1 each
Scorers for Fermanagh: Eoin McManus 0-4 (3f), Ryan Jones 0-2, James McMahon, Aidan Breen, Ciaran Corrigan, Stephen McGullion 0-1 each
ARMAGH: Blaine Hughes; Paddy Burns, Brendan Donaghy, Aidan Forker; Ryan Kennedy, Stephen Sheridan, Aidan Nugent; Niall Grimley, Oisin O’Neill; Rory Grugan, Stefan Campbell, Mark Shields; Jarlath Og Burns, Rian O’Neill, Jamie Clarke. Subs: Jason Duffy for Campbell (54), Ethan Rafferty for Clarke (62), James Morgan for Burns (62), Greg McCabe for Grugan (66), Aaron McKay for O O’Neill (68)
FERMANAGH: James McGrath; Jonny Cassidy, Niall Cosgrove, Kevin McDonnell; Eoin Shiels, James McMahon, Shane McGullion; Ryan Jones, Richard O’Callaghan; Aidan Breen, Ultan Kelm, Ciaran Corrigan; Stephen McGullion, Eoin McManus, Daragh McGurN. Subs: Declan McCusker for Cosgrove (30), Kane Connor for Cassidy (38), Tomas Corrigan for Shane McGullion (39), Conall Jones for O’Callaghan (45), Tiernan Bogue for Stephen McGullion (55)
Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down)