Mayo are still in the hunt for their first All-Ireland title in 53 years, despite ending the game with 14 men, as a series of late wides from first-time semi-finalists Fermanagh earned a 0-09 to 0-09 draw for the Connacht champions at Croke Park, and a replay next Saturday.
Half-forward James Gill's 43rd minute sending off for a neck-high challenge on Stephen Maguire played into the Ulster side's hands, but wayward finishing from Maguire, substitute Tom Brewster and Colm Bradley gave a nervous ending to proceedings in front of 64,518.
A man down, Mayo finished the stronger and it was John Maughan's side who had the final shot at goal, but two minutes into injury time full-back Conor Moran's point attempt drifted wide. Stephen Maguire had been forced to level the game for the fifth time on 66 minutes, with a free from his hands.
Fermanagh went a full 21 minutes through the middle of the first half without scoring, but nevertheless began the brighter. Midfielder Marty McGrath launched a rangy first minute shot off a Mayo upright before James Sherry drew first blood for the northerners, gathering Mark Little’s high centre and striking over three minutes later.
The fearless Little then plucked McGrath’s chip through to fire over and Colm Bradley’s acutely-angled score on 8 minutes had the underdogs three points in front.
In slippery conditions, Gill earned a quick free reply for Conor Mortimer to point. Three minutes later Mayo half-back Pat Kelly was left kicking himself as Fermanagh ‘keeper Niall Tinney narrowed his angles sufficiently to save at Kelly's feet.
An Alan Dillon free, Mayo’s first point from play from Trevor Mortimer, after a sublime diagonal feed from Brian Maloney, and another from Conor Mortimer saw the Connacht champions hit the front on 24 minutes, 0-04 to 0-03.
A second close range free from Dillon and half-back David Heaney’s trek forward, which ended with a superb point, then opened up a three-point advantage.
On the half hour, Stephen Maguire’s radar-like pass found Bradley with enough time to point from the right wing and with half time in sight, Eamonn Maguire crucially brought Fermanagh within one at 0-05 to 0-06 down, with a dogged score.
Within eleven minutes of the restart, the pendulum of the game swung back in Fermanagh’s favour. 26 seconds in, Bradley drew them level with a right-footed score.
Then just as Donegal and Armagh had had a man dismissed in previous rounds against Charlie Mulgrew’s side, Mayo went down to 14 men as half-forward Gill was sent to the line for a second yellow card.
Liam McBarron compounded Mayo's misery as his point helped the all Whites hit the front for the first time in 25 minutes. Mayo rallied briefly, as quarter-final super sub Tom Brewster entered the fray. Kieran McDonald levelled the game for a third time.
Soon Trevor Mortimer was unlucky not to be awarded a penalty on 48 minutes when a combination of Ryan McCloskey and Raymond Johnson brought down the corner forward with the Fermanagh goal in sight.
A listless period ended on 58 minutes when Brewster banged Fermanagh back in front with the first score for eleven minutes. Conor Mortimer quickly replied, and left-footed over his second score from play on 65 minutes for a 0-09 to 0-08 advantage.
Brewster though won a free for Maguire with four minutes remaining, and Fermanagh's first ever All-Ireland semi-final ended in a draw as their championship top scorer (0-23) raised the final white flag.
Filed by Barry J Whyte