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Armagh 2-08 Fermanagh 1-11

Updated: Wednesday, 06 Aug 2008 02:43

Armagh's Finnian Moriarty strikes for a rare goal Armagh's Charlie Vernon and Fermanagh's Martin McGrath tussle during an absorbing Ulster SFC final in Clones Armagh's starting XV Fermanagh's starting XV
Armagh's Finnian Moriarty strikes for a rare goal Armagh's Charlie Vernon and Fermanagh's Martin McGrath tussle during an absorbing Ulster SFC final in Clones Armagh's starting XV Fermanagh's starting XV

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Fermanagh came from eight points behind to send this gripping Ulster SFC final with Armagh to a replay at Clones.

Read Séamus Leonard's blow by blow text matchtracker.

The Erne men ran a flagging Armagh side ragged in a dramatic second half, but didn't get the equaliser until deep into stoppage time when substitute Shaun Doherty hit the target.

But for the brilliant Steven McDonnell, who scored six points, Armagh would surely have been planning for the Qualifers, but they somehow survived, and the sides will meet again, back at Clones next Sunday (3pm).

Fermanagh led at the end of the opening quarter, after wing-back Tommy McElroy and Ryan Keenan, from a free, were on target.

But there were signs of the threat carried by the Armagh attack, and they almost had a goal when Paul McGrane turned over possession in midfield, and got on the end of the move involving Stephen Kernan and Brian Mallon to fire in a shot, which Ronan Gallagher kept out.

They began to reap the reward for their measured approach when McDonnell thumped over two exquisite points from play, and when midfielder Kieran Toner added a point, they led by 0-04 to 0-02.

The Orchard County struck for a goal in the 28th minute, their ability to hold possession paying dividends when Brian Mallon turned the ball inside for corner-back Finnian Moriarty to arrive and beat Gallagher with a low shot.

To their credit, Fermanagh did respond with scores from Ciaran McElroy and Mark Little, but they were becoming increasingly frustrated by Armagh's blanket defence, and when McDonnell added his third score, this time from a free, the Orchard led by 1-05 to 0-04 at the break.

Fermanagh needed to start the second half well, but they were rocked by a second Armagh goal less than a minute after the restart, Mallon cutting the ball back for Ronan Clarke to drill home for a seven-point cushion.

But the Erne men, with Marty McGrath playing a heroic role, responded with a goal, McGrath crossing from the left for Eamon Maguire to punch past Paul Hearty at the far post.

Fermanagh forced countless turnovers and picked up an immense amount of loose ball, gradually chipping away at the deficit with points from Eamon McElroy, Shane McDermott and McGrath.

McDonnell hit a couple on the breakaway to ease the pressure, but Fermanagh just kept on pushing, and hit the game's final three points, Doherty slotting over the final point to deservedly force the replay.

Armagh:
P Hearty, A Mallon, F Bellew, F Moriarty (1-00), A Kernan, A O'Rourke, C McKeever, P McGrane, K Toner (0-01), C Vernon, B Mallon, M O'Rourke, S McDonnell (0-06, 1f), R Clarke (1-01), S Kernan.
Subs: P McKeever for M O'Rourke, O McConville for S Kernan, M O'Rourke for Vernon, D McKenna for B Mallon.

Fermanagh: R Gallagher, S Goan, S McDermott (0-01), P Sherry, D Kelly, R McCluskey, T McElroy (0-01), M McGrath (0-02), M Murphy (0-01), C McElroy (0-02), J Sherry, R Keenan (0-01, 1f), E Maguire (1-00), S McCabe, M Little (0-02, 2f).
Subs: B Owens for McCabe, S Lyons for Kelly, T Brewster for J Sherry, D O'Reilly for Goan, S Doherty (0-01) for McElroy.

Referee:
J White (Donegal).

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