Donegal avenged their Ulster Football Championship defeat to Fermanagh last month by beating them in the All-Ireland qualifiers at Eniskillen tonight. The two teams previously met at the preliminary stage of the Ulster Championship with Fermanagh eventually emerging winners after a tight, hard-fought replay. However, following Fermanagh's less than impressive performance during their defeat to Monaghan last week, Donegal were confident that they could get one over their old foes in the first round of the All-Ireland qualifiers and so it proved tonight.
The victors opened up a strong lead in the first-half and by the interval they led 0-09 to 0-00. Michael Hegarty opened the scoring in just the first minute, signalling Donegal's determination from the start. Adrian Sweeney, Brendan Devenney and Brian Roper added three more scores inside the first 12 minutes and Fermanagh began to show their frustration as Donegal continued to find holes in their defence.
Martin McGrath and Neil Cox both pick up bookings as Donegal continued their domination, notching up as many wides as scores. By the half-hour mark, Donegal were six points up and with Sweeney adding his third and fourth points in the space of a minute and Devenney adding a free to his tally, they looked as if they had already secured their victory with a further 35 minutes to be played.
Not surprisingly, Fermanagh up their game in the second half as they faced a tough battle to get back into the match. Rory Gallagher scores their first point after three minutes of the second-half and adds a second three minutes later. However, in between, Devenney extended Donegal's lead and although Fermanagh had reduced the gap between the sides to eight points by the hour-mark, Donegal remained firmly in control.
With just injury-time remaining, and eight points still separating the two sides, they produced the most exciting period of the game. A point for substitute Tony Boyle extended Donegal's advantage before Mark O'Donnell found the net for Fermanagh but it was too little too late. In the final few seconds of play, Brian Roper received a red-card after a bust-up and he will miss Donegal's next outing.
Filed by Amanda Fennelly