Fermanagh 2-11 Longford 1-10

Fermanagh Ladies made history on Saturday in St Mary’s Park in Ardee Co.Louth by reaching the All Ireland Intermediate Football Final in Croke Park on September 27th. I believe it is the first time that a Fermanagh football team has played in Croke Park in an All Ireland Final . A loyal band of supporters made the long journey to Ardee to cheer the Fermanagh girls on and they were to be rewarded with a history making performance. In a game that the majority of pundits outside of Fermanagh gave the Ernesiders little chance of winning, Fermanagh knew they would have to upset the form book to progress, but when it comes to winning a place in Croke Park, the form book goes out the window.


What can be described as a fresh to strong breeze was blowing straight down the park prior to throw in and Longford having won the toss opted to play with its aid during the first half. Almost straight from the throw in Fermanagh were on the attack and had Longford pegged back inside their 45 metre line for the opening 3 minutes , registering 2 wides in quick succession. In the 4th minute of play Sharon Little was fouled on the 21 metre line and her sister Caroline duly pointed the free, first blood Fermanagh. Longford made their first venture into the Fermanagh half in the 5th minute and mid-fielder Allison Smith kicked a wide under intense pressure form the Fermanagh rear guard, this was to be a feature of the game. Fiona Gettings was to get Longford’s opening score in the 7th minute with a fine individual point. In the 9th minute Longford were awarded a 45 metre kick after a marvellous block down in defence by Edel Mc Govern . Longford’s Denise Murtagh accuracy in kicking the ball of the ground, which was to become one of the features of game, became evident when her kick was fielded by Fermanagh goalkeeper, Donna Gilroy inside her 6 yard box, a Longford forward tackled Donna and the ball ended up in the back of the net, but the referee disallowed the goal for a technical infraction of the rules. Fermanagh had got its warning about the accuracy and range of Murtaghs ability with the dead ball. Denise Murtagh put Longford in the lead in the 12th minute from a 14 metre free and from here Longford attempted to turn the screw on Fermanagh with the aid of the now stiffening breeze. Donna Gilroy was once again called into action as another long range Denise Murtagh free rained in on her. Donna used every last millimetre of her frame to get her fingers to the ball as it started to did goal wards, she managed to push the ball out, but only as far as the waiting Fiona Gettings who from 6 yards out looked certain to goal, but a brilliant goal line block by Derrygonnellys Adele Gallagher saved the day . From the ensuing clearance however Longford pointed through Edel Quinn.In the 17th minute Denise Murtagh was to extend Longford’s lead further with another excellently taken point. Longford had now built themselves a 3 point lead. Fermanagh were finding it difficult now to make any headway into the wind and straight from the kick out Longford grabbed another point through Fiona Gettings to leave the score, Longford 0-05 and Fermanagh 0-01.In the 19th minute Fermanagh had a half chance at goal, Shauna Hamilton played a ball inside to Catherine Murphy about 8 metres from and as the goal keeper came to try and intercept the ball , both players got tangled and the ball rolled goal wards, both players regained their feet and Catherine managed the kick the ball goal wards but the Longford keeper stuck out a despairing leg and managed to stop the ball and clear it. Longford extended their lead further in the 21st minute through Siobhain Mc Gowan and in the 22 minute Fermanagh created another goal scoring chance, Kyla Mc Manus took possession of ball in mid field and fed the ball to here midfield partner, Caroline Little who went on a solo run, carving a hole through the Longford defence , with 3 defenders chasing her and 3 more attempting to cut her of goals, Caroline unleashed a thunder bolt from the 21 metre line, the Longford keeper was beaten all ends up but the crossbar wasn’t, and to add insult to injury, Longford cleared the ball after Caroline’s attempt and in the ensuing attack scored a goal through Fiona Blessington. Longford added another point from Edel Quinn leaving the score now Longford 1-07 and Fermanagh 0-01, it would take a mighty effort from Fermanagh to pull this out of the fire. Team captain was to raise a Fermanagh cheer in the 23rd minute of the game with a wonderful point from 35 metres out after neat play between herself and Adele Gallagher and in the 24th minute Sharon Little pointed a 14 metre free after Sharon Mc Govern had been fouled . Fermanagh were slowly getting a foothold back in the game and in the 25th minute Caroline Little kicked a monster 40 metre free kick over the bar after a foul on Shauna Hamilton to narrow the gap that wee bit farther. Longford tagged on another point in the 27th minute through Hanafin and that left the score at Longford 1-08 and Fermanagh 0-04.

In the 28th minute Sharon Little made a great interception as Longford tried to pass their was out of trouble and as she bore down on goal she was fouled by Longford’s Adriana Melia who was subsequently sin binned for a 10 minute period. Caroline Little stood up to take the spot kick , the keeper got a leg to save the initial shot but Caroline was quickest to the ball and although forced wide she placed the ball low and hard into the far corner of the goals.

In the 29th minute Sharon Little had to be replaced after a clash which left her slightly dazed by Aileen Moane and Catherine Murphy was replaced by Aisling Moane.


Half Time


Longford 1-08 Fermanagh 1-04


With 30 minutes left to win a place in the All Ireland Final , the question was how would this Fermanagh team , that nobody outside of Fermanagh had given a chance of even reaching this stage of the competition react to be being 4 points down . The answer came as early as the 32nd minute, when Aisling Moane was fed the ball way out on the left wing by Kinawleys Patricia Melanaphy, Moane went around her defender and launched a mighty kick from 40 metres out and the ball swerved neatly between the posts , Fermanagh were ready to do battle. Straight from the Longford keepers kick out , Caroline Little launched the ball towards the posts and the Longford keeper allowed the ball to bounce in her 6 yard box and it cleared the cross bar for another Fermanagh point , the deficit was now down to 2 points in a matter of minutes. In the 35th minute , Shauna Hamilton had her jersey tugged and from the resulting 21 metre free, Caroline little reduced the Longford lead to a solitary point. The Longford attack was making little headway in the opening minutes of the 2nd half as Fermanagh’s rearguard repelled them time after time, Donna Maguire was playing a key role at the heart of Fermanagh’s defence. In the 38th minute the recovered Sharon Little was reintroduced for Aileen Moane who had worked very hard in her time on the field .Longford were finding the scoring tougher now against the wind as they kicked 3 wides against the wind in quick succession, the wind wasn’t the only factor with Fermanagh’s Anita Newell, Tara Hughes, Aine Mc Brien, Clair Woods, Adele Gallagher and the impressive Patricia Melanaphy making the Longford players work for every inch of Fermanagh territory that they gained. Longford’s , Adriana Melia, came back on in the 9th minute at the end of her sin binning. In the 41st minute Caroline Little brought the sides’ level with another free kick and a mighty roar went up from the Fermanagh support in the stand and along the bank outside the pitch. In the 42nd minute Fermanagh had a wonderful goal chance, Sharon Little having been fouled 30 metres from goal noticed that her sister was standing in close to the 6 yard box , the quick thinking Sharon played a wonderfully accurate pass into Caroline who had to take the shot almost instantaneously as the defenders closed her down, only for the keeper to pull off a wonderful save. The Longford defenders tried to move the ball out through the hand but Sharon Little intercepted and was almost immediately fouled by Longford’s Sharon Tracey 21 metres out in front of the goal, the Longford defender received a yellow card for the foul and 10 minutes in the sin bin. Caroline Little converted the free kick to give Fermanagh a 1 point lead at this stage in the game, Fermanagh 1-09 and Longford 1-08. Fermanagh had turned around a 9 point deficit into a 1 point lead half way through the 2nd half.

Longford were not done yet and in the 48th minute, Denise Murtagh pointed another wonderful free off the ground to bring the teams level and now it was the Longford supports turn to roar their approval, amazingly this was Longford’s first score of the 2nd half. Fermanagh’s response came immediately with the ball having being worked out to Aisling Moane on the wing she noticed Donna Maguire making a run threw the centre, Moane played a beautiful ball into the stride of Maguire who chipped the ball over the bar for Fermanagh to retake the lead. In the 52nd minute Denise Murtagh drew the sides’ level once again with another free kick from the ground . At this stage the Longford management were emptying their bench in search of that spark that would win them the game.

In the 54th minute of the game a decisive blow would be struck for Fermanagh, Donna Maguire won a ball in defence and passed it on to Aine Mc Brien and as she came out of defence beating 2 Longford players she managed to get a pass of to Caroline Little who herself beat 2 more Longford players before playing a long ball into Aisling Moane, the Longford defender made a desperate gamble to get to the ball first but the bounce looped over her head into Moanes hands, she turned and made a bee line for goal and from 8 yards out coolly slotted the ball between the keepers legs.


Fermanagh 2-10 Longford 1-10


Catherine Murphy was reintroduced in the 25th minute for the very hardworking and willing Sharon Mc Govern . Longford were applying serious pressure on Fermanagh at this stage as they tried to rescue their All Ireland dream but Fermanagh was having none of it and Donna Gilroy in the Fermanagh goals dealt with a number of very tricky balls brilliantly. Fermanagh kicked an insurance point in the 58th minute of the game through team captain Kyla Mc Manus.

Having scored 1-06 , Fermanagh’s Caroline Little was named as the TG4 player of the match.


The scenes of joy in the Fermanagh panel that greeted the final whistle can only be appreciated by those in the panel and those close to the panel . In a year that saw us relegated, major doubts over fielding a team for the Championship, no sponsor and being cast as underdogs in every game we played . A we don’t care what you think we are going to do it anyway mentality developed around the team. The team dedicate the win to ill team mate Eimir Martin and hope that come September 27th she will be in Croke Park with us.


We would like to thank Mr Pat Mc Cauley and his wife , Leanne , for their generous sponsorship of the Fermanagh’s Ladies team and for coming in board and for their blind faith ,the name of their business, The Knockmore Bar in Derrygonnelly will be making an appearance in Croke Park. We still need other sponsors to come on board as having reached the All Ireland Final ,the expense for that weekend will be huge. We are asking Fermanagh Gaels to dig deep and support your Ladies team as they play in the county’s first All Ireland Final in Croke Park.


Fermanagh 2-11 Longford 1-10




Donna Gilroy, Tara Hughes, Kyla Mc Manus, Claire Woods, Donna Maguire, Patricia Melanaphy, Catherine Murphy,
Adele Gallagher, Caroline Little, Aine Mc Brien, Shauna Hamilton,

Sharon Little, Ashling Mc Caughey, Sharon Mc Govern, Ashling Moane, Eimir Keenan, Roisin Carron, Imelda Mc Govern, Rachel O’ Dolan, Aileen Moane, Mary Smith,Nuala Curran, Anita Newell, Edel Campbell, Louise Slevin, Shireene Greene, Roisin Gleeson,

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