Fermanagh will play their hurling outside the bottom tier of the Allianz Hurling League for the first time in eight years next spring, after Luca McCusker's stoppage time goal sealed a dramatic win over Longford in the Division 3B final at Avant Money Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada in Carrick-on-Shannon.

The last time the Erne County won this Division was in 2016, though on that occasion, a league reshuffle meant that they didn’t earn promotion for their efforts. Markievicz Park in Sligo was the venue for that fixture when 2021 captain Ryan Bogue scored a vital goal in their 2-13 to 3-08 win over today’s opposition.

Joe O’Brien and Cathal Mullane combined to score 3-05 in that game five year’s ago and the Longford duo certainly hit the ground running this afternoon as well, with O’Brien opening the scoring after just two minutes, blasting the ball to the net at the end of the good Longford counter attack.

Fermanagh started nervously with some poor wides, but two excellent scores from Caolán Duffy seemed to settle the unbeaten Ulster county into the game.

Longford’s attack was moving very well however, and O’Brien, Mullane and Emmett Corrigan all made their mark on the scoreboard as they moved 1-9 to 0-6 clear with a little over 20 minutes gone.

The next ten minutes was arguably the winning of the game, as Fermanagh went on a run of 1-5 without reply, Shea Curran their goalscorer after he met a long delivery from Seán Corrigan with a deft flick that evaded Conor Gallagher in the Longford goal.

Tom Keenan and Seán Corrigan hit the other five points between them, but Longford rallied briefly before half-time, drawing level before Corrigan added his seventh point of the game, his fourth free, to make it 1-12 to 1-11 in Fermanagh’s favour at the break.

The third quarter followed the same pattern as the first with Longford taking over, albeit this time Fermanagh kept their goal intact, which was to prove crucial. Luca McCusker doubled their lead with the first point of the half and they continued to defend well close to their own goal, but Longford were a real threat from long-distance, mainly through Paddy Lynam frees but also from play, David Buckley drawing a huge roar from the Longford support when he popped one over from his own half.

Poor Fermanagh shooting looked like it would prove costly as their wide count mounted, while Longford moved 1-17 to 1-14 in front by the hour mark.

Yet again, a powerful Fermanagh surge was to prove decisive. Ryan Bogue nailed a pressure free, Caolán Duffy and Bogue pointed either side of a momentum-shifting red card for Longford’s Paddy Lynam, and Tom Keenan scored the last point of the game going into stoppage time to heighten the tension.

With Longford chasing an equaliser, gaps opened up in their defence and Luca McCusker took full advantage to nab a goal after 73 minutes that confirmed Fermanagh’s win and their passage back up to Division 3A next year.