Allianz FL D2: Armagh overcome Fermanagh
Allianz Football League Division Two
ARMAGH 1-9 FERMANAGH 0-6
By Orla Bannon at Crossmaglen
Armagh are guaranteed to be playing Division Two football in 2020 after inflicting a first league defeat of the season on Fermanagh to dent their promotion hopes in Crossmaglen.
Substitute Ethan Rafferty's well-taken goal after 62 minutes was a pivotal score in a low-scoring tussle.
However Armagh did a lot of the hard slog in the third quarter when they scored three points in a row in difficult weather conditions to turn a 0-5 to 0-4 interval lead into a useful four-point cushion.
The Erne men were down to 14 players at the end when Che Cullen picked up a late yellow card and was sent-off having been sin-binned earlier, but the win which staved off any relegation threat for Armagh was already in the bag.
Aidan Forker and Jarly Og Burns set the tone with early points from play while Rory Grugan, Niall Grimley and Rian O'Neill pointed frees with the aid of a strong breeze.
All of Fermanagh's six points came from play, four in the opening half from Ryan Jones, Declan McCusker, Ryan Lyons and Aidan Breen.
Their average scoring return of 10 points in the previous five league games had been enough to protect their unbeaten status – but they came up well short .
Both teams were content to keep possession of the ball for long periods and at times reluctant to shoot, but a penetrative pass into Jamie Clarke saw the star forward convert a second-half.
Rafferty was only on the fielD a few minutes when he cut along the sideline and squeezed a low left-footed shot underneath 'keeper Thomas Treacy's body for the game's only goal.
Suddenly there was more urgency about Fermanagh and sub Tom Clarke fisted Sean Quigley's pass towards goal, but Blaine Hughes batted it away.
With Donegal also winning, Fermanagh will need something from their final game away to Meath next Sunday if they're to complete back-to-back promotions.
Scorers for Armagh: E Rafferty 1-0, N Grimley 0-2 (2fs), R Grugan 0-1 (f), A Forker 0-1, C Vernon 0-1, J Og Burns 0-1, M Shields 0-1 , J Clarke 0-1 (m), R O'Neill 0-1 (f).
Scorers for Fermanagh: D McCusker 0-2, R Lyons, R Jones, A Breen, C Jones 0-1 each.
ARMAGH: Blaine Hughes; Ryan Kennedy, Aaron McKay, Paul Hughes; Brendan Donaghy, Greg McCabe, Aidan Forker; Charlie Vernon, Niall Grimley; Jemar Hall, Rory Grugan, Jarlath Og Burns; Pearse Casey, Rian O'Neill, Jamie Clarke.
Subs: Stefan Campbell for Casey (26), Mark Shields for McCabe (HT), Ethan Rafferty for O'Neill (61), Joe McElroy for Forker (62), Ciaran Higgins for Hall (70).
FERMANAGH: Thomas Treacy; Lee Cullen, Che Cullen, Kane Connor; Ultan Kelm, James McMahon, Ciaran Corrigan; Eoin Donnelly, Ryan Jones; Kevin McDonnell, Declan McCusker, Aidan Breen; Ryan Lyons, Conall Jones, Sean Quigley.
Subs: Daniel Teague for McDonnell (HT), Jonny Cassidy for Donnelly (52), Tom Clarke for Lyons (52), Paul McCusker for Breen (61).
REFEREE: Sean Hurson (Tyrone).