Fermanagh too strong for Lancashire

Like Warwickshire before them, Lancashire found Fermanagh too strong when they clashed at Pairc na hEireann. Picture: Emily Shirley
Like Warwickshire before them, Lancashire found Fermanagh too strong when they clashed at Pairc na hEireann. Picture: Emily Shirley


By David Hennessy



Stan Murray-Hession’s Lancashire team fell to the same fate as Warwickshire before them as they found Fermanagh just too strong for them in their opening Lory Meagher match. The Lancashire boss admitted they had met a better team at Pairc na hEireann on Saturday but also pointed out that his team, made up predominantly of Fullen Gaels’ Junior All-Ireland finalists, were newcomers to the competition and will improve.

Not even the concession of an own goal would derail Fermanagh’s charge . Rocked by the recent tragic death of Shane Mulholland, Fermanagh  seem like an unstoppable team at the moment, doubtlessly because they are playing for their late friend.

Fermanagh repeated the touching gesture of leaving a space for their late team mate who passed away following a road accident when they lined up for their team photo. There was also a space on the programme where Shane’s name would have been.

Acknowledging their opponents’ troubles, Lancashire gave Fermanagh a guard of honour off the field at the end.

Lancashire's guard of honour for Fermanagh. Picture: Emily Shirley
Lancashire’s guard of honour for Fermanagh. Picture: Emily Shirley

Lancashire’s Colm O’Callaghan scored the opening goal early on. Greg Jacob was involved with an excellent catch that allowed him to put his team on the offensive, before laying off to Vincent Morrissey whose shot was blocked but O’Callaghan was there to find the net. It was a score that put Lancashire 1-2 to 0-1 up with not ten minutes played.

Towards the end of the first half, Fermanagh’s captain John Paul McGarry got around his marker Nathan Unwin on the wing for his team’s fourth point, narrowing the gap to just two at 1-3 to 0-4 in Lancashire’s favour.

However, the game was about to turn in the Ulster team’s favour and not turn back for the remainder of the match. It was captain John Paul McGarry’s ball into the danger zone that caused confusion in the Lancashire defence. Patrick Duggan came off his line to meet Ciaran Corrigan but somehow the Fermanagh corner forward managed to knock the ball past the goalkeeper and direct it goal wards. The goal was fortunate really as it could have gone anywhere but at 1-4 to 1-3, Fermanagh had a lead to build on.

Things were about to go from bad to worse for Lancashire when Vincent Morrissey, the prolific star of Fullen Gaels’ last Croke Park reaching campaign, came off with a dislocated finger. Lancashire had a real game on their hands and losing such a player so early was a huge blow.

Fermanagh team leave space with Shane Mulholland. Co-manager Sean Duffy says his spirit is running through the team. Picture: Emily Shirley
Fermanagh team leave space with Shane Mulholland. Co-manager Sean Duffy says his spirit is running through the team. Picture: Emily Shirley

Helped by several frees by John Duffy, Fermanagh took a commanding 1-11 to 1-5 lead in at half-time. On the balance of play, this lead probably flattered Fermanagh.

It was Kevin Magee again who brought Lancashire right back into the contest when he collected the ball on the edge of the square and beat Mark Curry with a shot at goal. At 1-13 to 2-6, it was now a four point game.

Lancashire received another lifeline even if it was not one of their players who found the net. Kevin Magee was once again a handful and when he turned and put the ball across goal, substitute Eoin Mahon was under such pressure that he palmed it past the out coming Mark Curry into his own net.

Fermanagh kept Lancashire at arm's length on Saturday. Picture: Christiana E Carey
Fermanagh kept Lancashire at arm’s length on Saturday. Picture: Christiana E Carey

Any hopes of a Lancashire fight back were about to be put to bed when Barrie Duffy launched a powerful solo run from deep that went all the way, ending with Duffy somehow putting it past Duggan into the net for a somewhat scrappy goal. Lancashire will not be happy with how Duffy was allowed to run such a distance with the ball.

At 2-15 to 3-6 and with time running out, a second victory for Fermanagh looked inevitable. Colm O’Callaghan’s 30 yard free was cancelled out by another from John Duffy, sent between the posts as we entered four minutes of injury time.

Goal scorer Barrie Duffy evades Lancashire challenges. Picture: Christiana E Carey
Goal scorer Barrie Duffy evades Lancashire challenges. Picture: Christiana E Carey

Lancashire manager Stan Murray-Hession told The Irish World after the match: “I think on the day the better team won. The signs were there of the hurling they’ve done during the course of the National League really and if the truth be told, they were just that little bit better and a bit craftier than us.

“Look, it’s our first day out.  I didn’t really know what we were going to do today to be honest. So to put a performance in like that, particularly in the second half, was very satisfying, I was happy enough. But a performance like that isn’t going to win the Lory Meagher. We’ve got to hurl for 70 minutes and we’ve got to get into the habit of hurling for 70 minutes.

“Now, no matter what happens,  we’ll have to improve a tonne on that performance if we have any prospect of beating Leitrim next weekend.

“We gave away some seriously silly frees. I think that’s something else that we’ll have to develop and work on because we gave eight frees away in the first half that they got eight points off. You just can’t do that.

“If I’m honest, I thought the referee was hard on us. In the entire match, we got one free inside the 65. In 70 minutes of hurling, to get one free inside the 65, you have to wonder, ‘what happened there?’ And I’m not convinced that the discipline of the Fermanagh team was any better or worse than ours.”

Fermanagh co-manager Sean Duffy told us after the match how the recent tragedy is effecting his team: “It’s driving us on. Shane Mulholland was very close with the rest of our lads, he was a character in our dressing room and anyone who knew Shane Mulholland, knew how passionate he was about hurling.

“The spirit of Shane Mulholland is running through that team. We’re carrying him with us, the spirit of Shane is in that team there.

“Lancashire are a good side, we knew they were going to be a difficult opposition because most of them come from Fullen Gaels and those Fullen Gaels boys, we know what they’ve done. They were in an All-Ireland final earlier in the year,  they were in an All-Ireland semi-final last year. There’s hurlers there. We were under no illusions it was going to be a tough game.”

Lancashire: Patrick Duggan, Simon Wallace, Liam Knocker, Seamus Richardson, Conal Maskey (0-1), James O’Shaughnessy, Nathan Unwin, Reamonn McEntee (0-1), Alan Morrissey, Colm O’Callaghan (1-2), Greg Jacob (0-4, 1 s/l), Damien O’Grady, Kevin Magee (1-1), David Coughlan, Vincent Morrissey. Subs: Daire Maskey for V Morrissey,  Joseph Sheehan for Coughlan, Tom Corcoran for O’Grady.

Fermanagh: Mark Curry, David Teague, Declan McGarry, Fergus Bannon, Mark Slevin, Karl Mehoe, John Duffy (0-8, 1 x 65, 6F) Daniel Teague (0-1), John Paul McGarry (0-2), Kevin McGarry (0-4), Ciaran Corrigan (1-1), Shea Curran, Brian MacLaughlin (0-1), Andrew Breslin, Barrie Duffy (1-0). Subs: Thomas Cleary for Breslin, Eoin Mahon (1-0 OG) for Bannon, Colm Rice for Curran, Cathal McGarry for Curry.

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