All-Ireland champions Tyrone were made to work hard but eventually sealed their passage through to an Ulster SFC semi-final meeting with Donegal in a fortnight, on the back of a hard-grafted 1-13 to 0-12 victory over Fermanagh in Clones.

Both sides had a man sent off on 50 minutes as Red Hand attacker Brian McGuigan and Fermanagh corner back Hugh Brady walked for separate second yellow card offences. A fourth minute Mark Harte penalty helped Tyrone on their way, but by the half hour mark they were left in little doubt as to the ferocity of the Ernemen’s challenge. Owen Mulligan clipped over off his right foot after 17 seconds but Tyrone had to wait another 21 minutes until Harte managed their second point.

Fermanagh outscored them six points to two in the final 11 minutes of the half and went two points in front with two early Stephen Maguire frees in the second period but a famous win eluded them at the death. Tyrone midfielder Sean Cavanagh was instrumental in the opening exchanges offloading for Mulligan’s point and being felled for Harte’s penalty which sent ‘keeper Niall Tinney the wrong way.

Debutant Eamonn Maguire and Queens’ midfielder Martin McGrath combined for Fermanagh’s two opening scores. A foul on Kevin Hughes saw Harte regain a goal lead for Tyrone on 21 minutes but from then on it was new boss Charlie Mulgrew’s side who looked the more polished.

Points followed for Mark Little, cancelling out a Hughes effort, full-forward Maguire, James Sherry and McGrath as Fermanagh levelled at 0-06 to 1-03. McGuigan sent over a late Tyrone score to edge in front but half time came with the underdogs level thanks to Damien Kelly’s long-range point in the third minute of injury time.

Maguire claimed his quick brace to edge 0-09 to 1-04 in front but from the 41st to 48th minute Tyrone owned the football. Cavanagh, Mulligan (2 frees) and Hughes, off his left, landed four in a row for the champions to reverse the score line. Mulligan clipped over a third free after Brady was sent for an early bath by Meath referee Seamus McCormack for a foul on Philip Jordan. Seconds later McGuigan late charge on Damien Kelly left McCormack no option.

But it failed to affect the football as Tyrone’s superior fitness counted in the final straight as they scored another four unanswered points through Mulligan, Harte, Stephen O’Neill and Ciaran Gourley, from 59 to 69 minutes. Fermanagh could only reply through two Maguire frees and a breakaway score, finished by James Sherry, but will be a handful for Tipperary in the qualifiers.

Filed by Barry J Whyte