GOALS in either half were the big difference between Donegal and Fermanagh in Brewster Park, Enniskillen on Saturday in a cracker of a game.
Donegal had no right to be a point ahead at the break (2-7 to 0-6) but they were much the better side in the second half and a late Fermanagh goal put a better gloss on the scoreboard.
Donegal prevailed despite getting little from Derry official, Eamonn Hassan, who only awarded them six frees in the entire game and disallowed a Paddy Hannigan goal that looked perfectly legitimate.
But in the end that didn’t matter as Ray Durack’s men completed a hat-trick of league wins in impressive style.
It didn’t look good when they trailed Fermanagh 0-7 to 0-2 after 15 minutes of this game with Sean Corrigan (3), Shea Curran, Andrew Breslin and John Duffy finding the range while Lee Henderson (free) and Sean McVeigh replied for Donegal.
Fermanagh were dominating in the air but points from Lee Henderson and Stephen Boyle were followed by the first goal on 23 minutes, Paddy Hannigan bundling over the line after a centre from Enda McDermott.
That left the sides level. John Duffy and Enda McDermott traded points before Fermanagh went three clear through Duffy, Brendan McGarry and Corrigan. McGarry should have had a goal but opted to point when clean through.
Donegal’s second goal came on 32 minutes with Paddy Hannigan turning provider for Stephen Boyle to level matters once more.
Fermanagh should have had a goal a minute later but JP McGarry was denied by the boot of Paul Burns when it looked more likely to get a goal. Burns deflected his effort over the crossbar.
Before half-time Ronan McDermott and a Lee Henderson free amazingly had Donegal in front despite playing second fiddle for much of the half.
The second half was a different story. A snow and sleet shower at half-time dampened the surface but Lee Henderson found the range from a ‘65’ inside two minutes.
Shea Curran and Sean Corrigan had Fermanagh level but Sean McVeigh pushed Donegal ahead before Hannigan struck for his second goal on 42 minutes. It came after Enda McDermott launched the sliothar in high and Hannigan, with the deftest of flicks, found the net.
Within two minutes Hannigan repeated the act, but referee Hassan, from the middle of the field, ruled that he had fouled the full-back, which looked a dubious decision.
The fourth goal arrived on 47 minutes, thanks to Lee Henderson dispossessing Fermanagh ‘keeper, Mark Curry, who took too much time to clear. Henderson crossed for Enda McDermott had the simple task of blasting home from close range.
Lee Henderson added a point from play to put Donegal 4-11 to 0-14 clear and on their way.
The final quarter saw both sides cancel each other out with John Duffy (3), Shea Farrell and Colm Rice pointing for Fermanagh while Joe Boyle, Enda McDermott and Stephen Boyle found the range for Donegal.
With a minute left Rory Porteous had Fermanagh’s consolation goal before Enda McDermott brought down the curtain on the scoring with a massive effort from 70m and close to the sideline.
Fermanagh: Mark Curry; Donal Teague, Eoin Morrissey, Eoin Mahon; Colum Rice (0-1), Fergus Bannon, Karl Kehoe (0-1); John Duffy (0-6, 5f), Ryan Bogue; Andrew Breslin (0-1), John Paul McGarry (0-1), Brendan McGarry (0-1); Sean Corrigan (0-5,1f), Shea Curran (0-3), Martin Beggan. Subs., Rory Porteous (1-0) for Beggan 38; Niall Carson for A Breslin 48; Peter Timoney for Teague 53; Dwayne McPhillips for Curry 56; Andrew Breslin for Kehoe 65.
Donegal: Paul Burns; Martin McGrath, Justin McGee, Benny Harrigan; Christopher McDermott, Joe Boyle (0-1), Jamsie Donnelly; Paul Sheridan, Danny Cullen; Enda McDermott (1-3), Sean McVeigh (0-2), Lee Henderson (0-6,5f); Stephen Boyle (1-2), Paddy Hannigan (2-0), Ronan McDermott (0-1). Sub. Ciaran Mathewson for Henderson 66.
Referee: Eamonn Hasson (Derry)
Man of the match
The award goes to Enda McDermott, who had a massive influence, but Joe Boyle, Danny Cullen and Paddy Hannigan also had strong claims in a very good team performance.
The two second half goals, which came in a two minute period - from Hannigan and McDermott - pushed Donegal eight points clear and they never looked likely to be headed after that.
Not a good day at the office for Eamonn Hassan, who was very hard on Donegal from start to finish. An example was near the end when Christopher McDermott almost had his head removed as he cleared a Fermanagh attack and didn’t even get a free. Thankfully, the players had enough control to get on with the game and not take the law into their own hands.