More economical Fermanagh put paid to Westmeath championship hopes

Ray Connellan, Westmeath, in action against Richard O’Callaghan, Fermanagh. GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship, Round 4A, Fermanagh v Westmeath. Kingspan Breffni Park, Cavan. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Ray Connellan, Westmeath, in action against Richard O’Callaghan, Fermanagh. GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship, Round 4A, Fermanagh v Westmeath. Kingspan Breffni Park, Cavan. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Fermanagh 1-13 Westmeath 0-7

For the first half hour all seemed to be going according to plan for Westmeath, but Fermanagh responded, eventually cruising to a convincing All-Ireland round 4B qualifier win over the Midlanders at Kingspan Breffni Park on Saturday.

What had started in such promising fashion for an understrength Westmeath outfit eventually ended in bitter disappointment as a Tomas Corrigan inspired Fermanagh advanced to the quarter finals. 

Fermanagh had Marty O’Brien and Ryan McCluskey black carded as Westmeath made an encouraging start. The significant problem, though, was that Westmeath weren’t converting enough in attack. John Connellan was particularly prominent as Westmeath accumulated a 0-5 to 0-2 advantage, but the worrying thing for the Midlanders was the amount of wasted opportunities. In the opening period Westmeath only converted five from 17 chances and when Fermanagh finished the first half strongly the complexion altered hugely.

Corrigan, sharp throughout, landed three delightful points on the spin to ensure the teams departed on terms at the break. When the action recommenced, Westmeath just couldn’t recapture the drive and dash that had been shown at the outset.

That was when Paul Sharry and Dennis Corroon were enterprising and effective, ensuring a lively forward unit was being provided with quality possession. Unfortunately for Westmeath, their finishing and shot selection was poor. After the restart, Fermanagh seized the initiative and Westmeath wilted.

Corrigan and Dennis Glennon traded points, but then Fermanagh made a decisive burst. In the 28 minutes Westmeath failed to register a score, Fermanagh were sufficiently crafty to reel off 1-6 without reply.

Though Fermanagh talisman Sean Quigley had been restricted by a defiant Kieran Gavin display, the full forward drifted deep to influence the match in the third quarter. Quigley nailed a gorgeous score in the 40th minute and subsequently manufactured another for Niall Cassidy. Corrigan hit three more and the hard working Declan McCusker found the range as Fermanagh dominated.

Six minutes from the end Corrigan sealed the deal with a clever goal chipping the advancing Westmeath replacement ‘keeper Gary Connaughton. Ray Connellan terminated a lengthy wait for a Westmeath score with a free, but Damien Kelly replied for Fermanagh, who now face Dublin at GAA headquarters on Sunday.

Fermanagh: T Treacy; M Jones, T Daly, N Cassidy; M O’Brien, R McCluskey, J McMahon; E Donnelly, R O’Callaghan; B Mulrone, R Jones, D McCusker (0-2 ); P McCusker (0-1 ), S Quigley (0-2, 1f ), T Corrigan (1-7, 5fs ). Subs: D Kelly (0-1 ) for O’Brien (BC, 18 ), R Corrigan for McCluskey (BC, 28 ), C Jones for Donnelly (45 ), C Cullen for Cassidy (70 )

Westmeath: D Quinn; K Maguire, K Gavin, F Boyle; K Daly, P Holloway, J Dolan; D Corroon, P Sharry; J Gilligan, R Connellan (0-1, f ), K Martin; J Connellan (0-4, 2fs ), D Glennon (0-1 ), S Dempsey (0-1 ). Subs: G Egan for Connellan (HT ), D Lynch for Maguire (41 ), D Daly for Dempsey (47 ), G Connaughton for Quinn (55 ), L Smyth for Glennon (57 ), P Greville for Holloway (57 )

Referee: P Hughes (Armagh ).

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