Fermanagh eased into the semi-final of the Ulster Senior Football Championship with a 0-10 0-06 victory over Donegal, in a dour, nigly game that never really clicked into gear.
The match started in lively enough fashion, with torrential rain making conditions treacherous underfoot and the sides swapped early points, leaving them level on 0-02 0-02 after 12 minutes. A fine point from Brian Roper then gave Donegal a temporary lead, before Ronan McCabe's effort cancelled it out.
Donegal were then dealt a major blow when influential forward Brendan Devaney was forced off with an ankle injury and replaced by Johnny McCafferty, robbing them of their main source of guile and creation up front.
By now the game was becoming a disjointed stop-start affair, and Fermanagh's brand of direct football was giving them the edge in the inhospitable conditions.
Fermanagh skipper Raymond Gallagher struck a fine long-range effort, and quickly followed that with a looping free-kick that just dropped over to put his side two points in front. An Adrian Sweeney free-kick then reduced the deficit, before Ronan McCabe's free re-established Fermanagh's two point lead going into the break.
The rain eased off during half-time giving rise to hopes that the second half contest would be a brighter footballing spectacle, but those hopes were dashed almost immediately after the re-start by an incident that set the tone for the rest of the game. Fermanagh's Paul Brewster swung a fist at John Gildea, knocking him to ground, but somehow managed to escape with just a yellow card.
On the ball, Donegal started the half brightly and enjoyed the better possession, but without Devaney up front they struggled for ideas and failed to make any impression on the score board. After ten minutes of the second half, it was Fermanagh who claimed the first score of the half, with Gallagher putting daylight between the two sides. McCabe then added another from a free-kick, leaving his side with a four point lead.
Donegal were then given a glimmer of hope when Bradley was given his marching orders after picking up a second yellow card for a high challenge, but again they were found lacking up front.
It took 23 minutes of the second half for them to register a score – Sweeney claimed his fourth and Donegal's fifth, but that was quickly followed by a bad miss from Hegarty who sliced his free-kick to the left and wide. Fermanagh captain Gallagher made no such mistake from a similar position and re-established his side's four point lead, while McGuire then effectively ended the game as a contest with a fine solo point.
With a minute of normal time to go, McFadden hit a nicely angled point for Donegal, but it was little more than a consolation and when Brian Roper was sent off in injury time for punching substitute O'Reilly, it summed up his side's frustrations as they lost 0-10 to 0-06.
Filed by Rob Wright