Ulster SFC: Donegal survive tough Fermanagh test
Ulster SFC Quarter-Final
DONEGAL 0-15 FERMANAGH 0-9
By Declan Bogue at Brewster Park
Donegal have taken their first steps towards defending their Ulster final and will make up a mouth-watering semi-final against Tyrone on June 8th, in Kingspan Breffni Park after just having too many threats all over the field for a limited Fermanagh side.
There are no secrets in Ulster football, particularly between these two teams that know each other so well and with Fermanagh manager Rory Gallagher so embedded in Donegal football. As good as their defence was for the first 55 minutes, their lack of scoring threat was always going to lead to some separation on the scoreboard.
Six points in it at the end pays testament to Donegal's ability to shoot over the Fermanagh blanket defence, nine of their 13 scores from play coming from outside the 35 metre mark.
Up until then, there was much to admire about the home side. In fact, when they come to do their analysis on this game they can find many examples of how they out-performed expectations.
When Donegal went a full 18 minutes without their opening score, they had six chances prior to it that they either sent wide or dropped short.
Whenever Fermanagh were in possession, the demands from Gallagher on the sideline was to hold onto the ball and slow things down. It still didn't prevent them from dropping five chances short and three wide in that opening period. The one that hurt the most was Championship debutant Johnny Cassidy taking on a shot with his left foot when he had space to travel into and clip over from close range.
They might also have had a goal when their other Championship debutant Ultan Kelm managed to wriggle into the shooting zone but instead elected to punch over on five minutes.
However, a hamstring injury to Sean Quigley sustained at training midweek was to rob them of virtually their only genuine forward.
With a gap opening up after a freak bounce in front of the Fermanagh goals ended up with a fisted point from Paddy McBrearty - making his first appearance in a Donegal jersey since last year's Ulster final - the quality shone through.
Jamie Brennan was effervescent with four points from play and Michael Murphy dictated the Donegal attack, particularly in the third quarter where he scored a point himself and set up three more.
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte was in the crowd here. It will be another fascinating duel in under a fortnight's time.
Scorers for Fermanagh: C Corrigan, U Kelm 0-2 each, C Jones 0-2f, R Jones, B Mulrone 0-1 each, S Quigley 0-1f
Scorers for Donegal: P McBrearty 0-5, 2f, J Brennan 0-4, M Murphy 0-2, J McGee, L McLoone, C Thompson, M Langan 0-1 each
FERMANAGH: J McGrath; J Cassidy, C Cullen, L Cullen; U Kelm, J McMahon, K Connor; E Donnelly, R Jones; D Teague, A Breen, C Corrigan; D McCusker, C Jones, S Quigley. Subs: B Mulrone for Teague (HT), P McCusker for Quigley (44m), T Clarke for Connor (61m), R Lyons for Breen (65m), Teague for D McCusker (68m)
DONEGAL: S Patton; P McGrath, N McGee, S McMenamin; R McHugh, D ÓBaoill, EB Gallagher; H McFadden, J McGee; C Thompson, L McLoone, J Brennan; P McBrearty, M Murphy, M Langan. Subs: F McGlynn for ÓBaoill (50m), N O'Donnell for McLoone (55m), E McHugh for McGrath (62m), E Doherty for R McHugh (71m), P Brennan for Thompson (74m)
Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan)