Donegal’s Eirgrid Ulster U-20 Football Championship campaign ended at the first hurdle, as they lost out by 0-12 to 0-10 to Fermanagh at Brewster Park on Friday evening.
It was a deserved victory for Fermanagh despite losing their best player Ultan Kelm to injury early in the second half.
But they had Eoin Beacom at midfield, who dominated the air throughout, while Darragh McGurn stepped up to the mark when Kelm went off.
In truth, Donegal were disappointing with only Conor O'Donnell (Carn), Paddy Dolan and Peter McEniff making an impression.
Fermanagh were on the board after 30 seconds, Eoin Beacom finding the range.
By the ninth minute it was one-way traffic as Kelm and Callum Jones added two more points. Fermanagh were dominating in the air, but Paddy Dolan pulled a point back after good work by Donegal's most influential player Conor Doherty.
Donegal had a half goal chance on 13 minutes when Colin McFadden broke a high ball in front of the Fermanagh goal. The ball bobbled around and Conor O'Donnell (St. Eunans) fired first time but Cian Newman made the save. Fermanagh broke up the field for Darragh McGurn to set up Cameron McBrien to point.
A Shane McDevitt free and another good Paddy Dolan point cut the deficit to a point, but Lorcan McStravick made it 0-5 to 0-3 on 18 minutes.
Ryan Cunningham had a Donegal point on 20 minutes and with Fermanagh missing a number of chances, Shane McDevitt (free) after another run from Conor Doherty earned a free, and Conor O'Donnell miraculously had Donegal ahead with two minutes of added time played at the end of the first half.
But Fermanagh responded with points from Conor Love (after a Kelm run) and Darragh McGurn from a free after Fermanagh botched a goal chance. Kelm again was the man who made the break, but they were unable to finish despite having an extra man.
Half-time: Fermanagh 0-7, Donegal 0-6.
Callum Jones doubled the Fermanagh lead 33 seconds into the second half but they were dealt a blow a few minutes later when Kelm had to leave the field injured. Donegal had another half chance of a goal when a Peadar Mogan effort for a point dropped short and Colin McFadden almost got the flick.
A poor kick-out gifted a point to Sean Cassidy, but Donegal were back within a point when Conor O'Donnell won a kick out and Peadar Mogan fisted the point, and then Conor O'Donnell broke through to point. O'Donnell missed another immediately while Darragh McGurn edged Fermanagh further ahead from a free.
Conor O'Donnell pointed a free but Callum Jones fired over from outside the '45' to leave it 0-11 to 0-9 after 47 minutes.
A great break by Dara McBrien saw Eoin Beacom stretch the lead to three a minute later, while Fermanagh almost got a goal after a high hopeful ball was punched out by the 'keeper.
Conor O'Donnell converted a free and he then cut the lead to the minimum with five minutes left.
The same player missed a free but Paddy Dolan levelled matters but then received a second yellow card when he pushed his opponent on the way out with just over a minute of normal time left.
The game was there for the taking and it was Fermanagh's senior player Johnny Cassidy who made a massive break from defence and found Brandon Horan, who was fouled and Fergal McGovern tapped over the free.
And then Fermanagh added another on 64 minutes when McGovern was on target again to seal a famous win.
The Maguire men were 7/1 with the bookies and there were some Fermanagh men very happy at the final whistle with some winnings to collect.
For Donegal, it was a disappointing exit. They were cleaned at midfield where Fermanagh won just about everything and if the Maguire men had taken all their chances the final margin would have been much greater.
FERMANAGH: Cian Newman; Eoin Shiels, Johnny Cassidy, Fergal Keenan; Ultan Kelm (0-1), Josh Largo Ellis, Ryan Breen; Eoin Beacom (0-2), Brandon Horan; Cameron McBrien (0-1), Callum Jones (0-3), Dara McBrien; Lorcan McStravick (0-1), Sean Cassidy (0-1), Darragh McGurn (0-2,2f). Subs: Conor Love (0-2) for McStravick 22; Paul Breen for Kelm 35; Liam Owens for C McBrien 41; Fergal McGovern (0-1,f) for Cassidy 55; John Reihil for D McGurn 63
DONEGAL: Eoin O'Boyle; Peter McEniff, Aaron Deeney, Micheal McGroary; Karl McGlynn, Jack McSharry, Jeaic McKelvey; Ryan McMahon, Paddy Dolan (0-3); Colin McFadden, Conor O'Donnell (Carndonagh 0-2), Ryan Cunningham (0-1); Shane McDevitt (0-2,2f), Conor O'Donnell (St Eunans (0-3,2f)), Peadar Mogan (0-1).Subs: Seamus Og Byrne for McGroary 32; Shane O'Donnell for McDevitt 38; Mark McAteer for R Cunningham 43; Keelan McGroddy for R McMahon 53; Niall Hannigan for Conor O'Donnell Eunans 64
REFEREE: Steven Campbell (Tyrone)
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