Armagh 3-14 Fermanagh 0-10
Three goals from Jamie Clarke, Aidan Forker and Aidan Nugent helped ease Armagh into a 13 point victory in Brewster Park on Saturday evening.
In truth, the league table reflects the standard between the two sides, one team pressing for promotion while the other looks destined for Division Three football next season.
For whatever reasons, the powers that be in Brewster Park refused to turn on the floodlights until 15 minutes before throw in, leaving both sides to warm up in the dark.
And as the game began, it was Armagh who provided the only bright spark and by half time had opened up a considerable gap between the teams.
Having headed into the tunnel with the same comfortable margin intact against Westmeath, Armagh learned their hard lessons and this time drove on to victory.
Jamie Clarke set the tone after three minutes when he casually stole behind his marker to capture a long ball played into the attack. Clarke made no mistake in firing past the net-minder to hand his side an early three point lead.
The tone that Clarke had set was certainly followed by his teammates out the field. Whether it was Stephen Sheridan’s heroic fetch in midfield, Paddy Burns’ perfectly timed shoulder to bundle a Fermanagh player over the line, Aidan Forker and Niall Grimley powering forward at every opportunity, it seemed there was no end to Armagh’s drive and hunger.
The visiting side had tagged on four points through Rory Grugan (2), Aidan Nugent and Rian O’Neill before Fermanagh split Armagh’s scoring spree with scores from Stephen McGullion and James McMahon.
Jarlath Og Burns was on target for the Orchard County, breaking forward with unbelievable pace to drive the ball over the bar, following a superb turnover in defence from Armagh Captain Stefan Campbell.
Points from Nugent, Rian O’Neill and Grugan followed before Eoin McManus claimed the final score of the half, Armagh ahead 1-8 to 0-3 at the short whistle, with Fermanagh surely dreading the prospect of the second half.
McManus doubled his personal tally to open proceedings in the second period and close the gap to seven, but that’s as close as Ryan McMenamin’s team could get.
Rian O’Neill fired over his 3rd point before a brilliant free-flowing move saw Mark Shields play through attacking corner-back Aidan Forker, and the Maghery man coolly dispatched the ball past keeper James McGrath, who was a mere spectator to Forker’s brilliance.
Rian O’Neill turned provider to set up his brother Oisin as he swung over his first before the umpire was once again forced to reach for the green flag.
Oisin O’Neill’s attempt at a second score just fell short of the target, with Aidan Nugent reacting quickest to pounce on the loose ball and drive it to the back of the net.
Declan McCusker, Ciaran Corrigan, Aidan Breen, Ryan Jones (2) and Eoin McManus all tagged on consolation scores for Fermanagh but the game was well gone after Nugent’s three-pointer.
Indeed the margin could have been much more as Aidan Nugent blasted the ball off the crossbar minutes after his first goal, following great work from substitute Jason Duffy.
Rian O’Neill swung over a 4th as Niall Grimley got in on the scoring act, hitting a well deserved point in the final minutes before Jason Duffy slotted over the final score to leave Armagh victorious 3-14 to 0-10.
The crucial two points sees Armagh restore their spot at top of the table, above next week’s opponents Roscommon on score difference.
While Fermanagh failed to rise to the challenge, Armagh look primed for a tilt at Division One and a win next weekend will see them in the top tier for the first time since 2012.
Armagh: Blaine Hughes, Paddy Burns, Brendan Donaghy, Aidan Forker (1-0), Ryan Kennedy, Stephen Sheridan, Aidan Nugent (1-2), Niall Grimley (0-1), Oisin O’Neill (0-2), Rory Grugan (0-3), Stefan Campbell, Mark Shields, Jarly Og Burns (0-1), Rian O’Neill (0-4), Jamie Clarke (1-0). Subs: Jason Duffy (0-1) for S. Campbell, Ethan Rafferty for J. Clarke, James Morgan for P. Burns, Greg McCabe for R. Grugan, A. McKay for O. O’Neill
Fermanagh: James McGrath, Jonny Cassidy, James Allen, Kevin McDonnell, Eoin Shields, James McMahon (0-1), Shane McGullion, Ryan Jones (0-2), Richard O’Callaghan, Aidan Breen (0-1), Ultan Kelm, Ciaran Corrigan (0-1), Stephen McGullion (0-1), Eoin McManus (0-3), Darragh McGurn. Subs: Declan McCusker (0-1) for J. Allen, Kane Connor for J. Cassidy, Tomas Corrigan for Shane McGullion, Conall Jones for R. O’Callaghan, Tiarnan Bogue for Stephen McGullion