Fermanagh 1-16 Down 0-10

Fermanagh opened their Allianz Football League Division 2 campaign with a 1-16 to 0-10 win over Down in Pairc Esler.

Three Tomas Corrigan frees gave the Erne men a 0-04 to 0-01 lead, but Alan Davidson gave Down the lead, before Corrigan’s fourth sent the visitors in with a 0-06 to 0-05 interval lead.

Eoin McManus grabbed a 53rd-minute goal, and Corrigan brought his tally to eight as the visitors coasted to a nine-point success.

Down have not won a league game since April 2015, and the new campaign brought familiar woes as Mourne legend Pete McGrath brought his side to the Marshes and encountered little more than token resistance from a home side lacking confidence and self-belief.

Alan Davidson edged Down ahead from a free, but Fermanagh were soon on the attack, and a superbly timed tackle by Joe Murphy halted a charge by full back Che Cullen.

Eoin Donnelly and Declan McCusker pressed from deep, and Tomas Corrigan steered a couple of difficult frees between the posts to nudge the Erne men in front by the eighth minute.

Donnelly ruled the middle, and the direct running of McManus set up Eddie Courtney to make it 0-04 to 0-01, with the home side struggling to find any shape or balance to their play.

Centre-back Conaill McGovern pushed forward to shoot a fine score as Down lifted the siege, and as Gearrd McGovern and Cathal Magee combined on another break from deep, Shay Millar narrowed the gap to one.

Down were finally finding ways to break down the visitors’ defence, and Davidson brought them level in the 25th minute after Murphy had a shot deflected behind.

And they were more effective at the back too, with McGovern and Jonathan Flynn combining to halt the Erne men and launch the raid that saw Pat Havern fire in a shot that was well saved by Thomas Treacy.

A totally transformed Mourne side sensed the breakthrough, and another golden opportunity saw Davidson sprint through the middle to shave the wrong side of a post with a low drive.

Fermanagh went 23 minutes without a score, but Sean Quigley, who was having a quiet evening, sent over a delightful equaliser, before Corrigan’s fourth free sent Fermanagh in with a one-point lead at half-time.

When the Lakelanders shot five points in the opening seven minutes of the second half, it was clear this was an evening that was not going to end well for a side managed by Eamonn Burns, a cultured midfielder on McGrath’s all-conquering teams of 1991 and 1994.

Wing-back Aidan Breen ventured forward to shoot a couple of classy points, and Corrigan continued to do his stuff.

Down did muster a response which saw Davidson, Kevin McKernan and Joe Murphy, with a spectacular effort, cut the deficit to three, but they were unable to sustain the effort.

And with 17 minutes to play, Fermanagh struck gold when another positive move through the middle ended with McManus applying a tidy finish to the net.

Further scores from Barry Mulrone, Corrigan and subs Cathal Beacom and Ryan Lyons added gloss to a bountiful evening for Fermanagh.

Down: M Cunningham, R McAleenan, G McGovern, D O’Hagan, D McKeever, C McGovern (0-01), B McArdle, A Carr (0-01), J Flynn, J Murphy (0-01), C Magee, S Millar (0-01), A Davidson (0-05, 2f, 1 ’45), P Havern, B O’Hagan.

Subs: C Mooney for McArdle (h-t), K McKernan (0-01) for McKeever (42), R Johnston for Millar (44), C Maginn for Murphy (62), P Turley for Flynn (62), T McCaffrey for Corrigan (76).

Fermanagh: T Treacy, M Jones, C Cullen, C McManus, D McCusker, R McCluskey, A Breen (0-02), E Donnelly, L Cullen, B Mulrone (0-01), E McManus (1-00), P McCusker (0-01), E Courtney (0-01), S Quigley (0-01), T Corrigan (0-08, 7f).

Subs: C Beacom (0-01) for Courtney (57), J McMahon for McCluskey (64), D Keenan for E McManus (64), P Reihill for P McCusker (72), R Lyons (0-01) for Quigley (74).

Referee: F Kelly (Longford).

NEXT WEEK: Down play Clare in Ennis on Sunday in round two, Fermanagh welcome Galway to Brewster Park on the same afternoon.