By Mike Fitzpatrick
Rangers 0-14 , Fermanagh 2-5
Rangers edged into the Junior A final with this crucial, if a tad unconvincing, victory on Sunday over their Ulster rivals.
Seen by many as hot favorites, Rangers did not play to the best of their ability and, at times in the first half, found themselves deservedly behind.
Fergie Bogue’s Fermanagh side entered the fray determined to shake off their underdog status and, in fairness to them, before collapsing a little in the second half, they almost did.
Sean Gainey and Andrew Brady opened the scoring for Denis Tuomey’s Rangers with a point each early in the first half, but were knocked back by Philip Mallon’s first point of the afternoon, and a fine goal from Derry man Darren Doherty to give Fermanagh a lead.
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Rangers got their act together and strung a few points, thanks to Dave Phelan, Dave Ryan and Sean Gainey, to move ahead in the scoring.
Mallon hit another couple of efforts over the bar to draw level, but as half time approached Rangers grabbed a lead thanks to the boot of Sean Gainey and Rangers entered the halftime break leading by a couple of points.
After the break, Rangers moved into a more comfortable position with a three point cushion, Dave Ryan, Tomas Maher and Barry O’Shea all adding their names to the score sheet.
Fermanagh introduced substitute Justin Crudden who responded with a goal minutes after his arrival, and manager Fergie Bogue brought himself and Laurence Kennedy into the action in an attempt to add fresh legs and vast experience to his side’s struggle.
Darren Doherty was denied a goal by a fine save from Ger Cremmins which would have brought the Ulster side right back, and another point from Fermanagh’s star performer Philip Mallon chipped a little at Rangers lead.
Towards the final quarter though, the Blues Tom Bermingham, Gainey and Phelan hit late points to give Rangers a three point win.
Fermanagh will no doubt be disheartened, but Rangers must clearly improve upon this performance if they are to defeat the winners of next weeks Rockland-Donegal tie.
Rangers: Ger Cremmins, Malachy McHugh, Mike Rennicks, Phil Bermingham, Tomas Maher (0-1), Barry O’Shea (0-1), Lorcan Murray, Mike Bishop (0-1), Tom Bermingham (0-1), Dave Ryan (0-2), Dave Phelan (0-3), Mike Sheridan, Joe Maloney, Andrew Brady (0-1), Sean Gainey (0-4). Subs: Cormac Murray, John Cregan, Terry Maloney.
Fermanagh: Darren Boyle, Gene Mulligan, Sean Mohan, Noel McGovern, Declan Campbell, Philip Mallon (0-4), Eamonn Cassidy, Sean Melly (0-1), Paul McGuirk, Vincent Hollywood, Darren Doherty (1-0), Philip Kildea, Stephen Bogue, Brian Jackson, Marty McGlade. Subs: Fergie Bogue, Justin Crudden (1-0), Laurence Kennedy.