Fermanagh's promotion hopes suffer a blow in Crossmaglen

Armagh 1-09 Fermanagh 0-06

Fermanagh’s hopes of securing promotion to Division One suffered a big blow in Crossmaglen on Saturday as Rory Gallagher’s side went down by six points to Armagh.

The defeat drops Fermanagh to third in the table behind Meath and Donegal with an away game against Meath to come next Sunday.

Gallagher’s charges had looked to be in a strong position at the break as although they trailed by a point, 0-05 to 0-04, they had the elements in their favour in the second half.

However, a disappointing performance after the interval saw Fermanagh fail to register another score until the 69th minute by which stage Armagh had already built up a sizeable advantage.

Fermanagh looked nervous in the early stages of the game with Armagh starting the brighter of the sides.

Aidan Forker knocked over the opening score of the game before the impressive Jarlath Og Burns doubled the home side’s lead.

A Rian O’Neill free then put Armagh three points to the good by the tenth minute but Fermanagh did begin to settle after this and Ryan Lyons opened their account after linking up with Ryan Jones and Sean Quigley.

Rory Grugan did reply with a free for Kieran McGeeney’s side but Fermanagh hit back with a fine Aidan Breen point before Ryan Jones quickly followed up with his side’s third point after a Declan McCusker interception.

Armagh lost Gregory McCabe to a black card in the 25th minute but Fermanagh did not really take advantage of the extra man.

Declan McCusker did level things with a point from the right but the visitors were also to have a man sent to the sin bin when Che Cullen picked up a black card.

And it was Armagh who had the last say of the half as Niall Grimley slotted over a free to leave one between the sides at the interval.

Fermanagh though would have felt they were well placed to kick on in the second half with the breeze at their backs but they never got going at all as Armagh took control around the middle of the park through the influential Charlie Vernon and Burns.

Vernon put the home side two ahead after Fermanagh had coughed up possession and Jamie Clarke made it a three point game from a mark in the 50th minute.

Fermanagh were struggling to make any impact on proceedings as Armagh pushed further ahead through a Mark Shields point and with six minutes to go Ethan Rafferty put the contest out of Fermanagh’s reach with the only goal of the game to make it 1-08 to 0-04.

Fermanagh did have a sustained period of pressure late on when they did have some joy with the long ball into their full forward line but they went in search of goals that were not forthcoming.

Tom Clarke did force a good save out of Armagh goalkeeper Blaine Hughes who also made a stop from Declan McCusker from the follow up but other than that Armagh defended resolutely with Brendan Donaghy a key presence at the back.

McCusker and Conal Jones did tag on points for Fermanagh but the away side were to finish with 14 men as Che Cullen picked up a yellow card and subsequent red before Grimley landed the last point of the game from a free to secure a deserved six point win for Armagh.