Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath admitted his men were outmatched after half-time in their Ulster SFC preliminary-round defeat to Monaghan on Saturday night.

The Ernesiders trailed by just two points at the midway mark - 1-08 to 1-07 - but their Division 1 opponents then raised their game to run out nine-point winners.

"In the second half you'd have to say that Monaghan were superior, in terms of their physicality, their team-work and their intensity," McGrath told RTÉ Sport.

"In the first half, we more than matched them all over the field, and we went in at half-time happy because we had played the game they way we wanted to in that first half.

"It was unfortunate to concede the two late points towards the end of the first half but we thought we were in a good place.

"We did realise that we would need to be as energetic, focused and disciplined as we were in the first half, and that we would need to get off to a good start.

"They got the first couple of scores. We scored next but when the four or five-point gap opened up, they were really getting their game together and their superior physicality, work-rate and intensity had a massive impact all over the field.

"We were really unable to mount anything of a sustained challenge in the second half the way we did in the first."

Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke was puzzled by his side's sluggish start but pleased by the response they showed in the second half.

"The first half we weren't overly happy with," he said. "We just didn't have the energy we were hoping we would have coming into the game.

"I don't why we weren't at the pitch of the game. I don't think it was complacency, we knew Fermanagh had put it up to us before.

"We were a wee bit careless in possession. When we got the goal, I thought we were in the driving seat but then we conceded a bad goal at the other end.

"The second half we were much better and much more urgent all around the field. We pressed Fermanagh a bit further up the field and got a wee bit of joy from that turning them over.

"We didn't give them as much of the ball and let them set up attacks as easily and ran out fairly comfortable winners in the end.

"We still wouldn't be overly happy with our performance but as the game went on we got better."

Monaghan will now face Cavan in an Ulster quarter-final on June 11 as they target a third Ulster title in five years.

"We played Cavan in a National League game and it was seven points each. We have to go to Breffni Park so it's going to be a really tight game," said O'Rourke.

"We know that we have to improve our performance on today from the start of the game.

"We feel we have enough quality and enough experience to beat Cavan but (that's) as long as we put in a good performance and Cavan will feel the same way over the next three weeks."

Fermanagh will now be idle until the first round of the qualifiers on June 17. 

"The players are bitterly disappointed but we have to look at the first half and take the very positive things from that," said McGrath.

"The second half was very disappointing but we are where we are. We've got to look forward and we've got to try and make what might be a wet summer as long as we possibly can."