Disappointed Fermanagh U20 manager, Maurice McLaughlin, acknowledged that the quality of their opponents Donegal was pretty apparent in their 1-13 to 0-05 defeat in Ballybofey last Wednesday night, March 27.

But he referenced two key turning points in the match as significant moments in that eventual comprehensive defeat.

“It was very disappointing and I was pleased with elements of the first half when we competed quite well with Donegal.

“I felt that we battled well and put Donegal under pressure for quite some considerable period.”

Fermanagh were trailing Donegal by a point on score of 0-03 to 0-02 when a high ball into the Donegal square broke to midfielder Jarlath Flanagan who punched the ball to the net in the 15th minute.

From the vantage of the pressbox it looked like a legitimate goal but referee Diarmuid Boylan ruled that Flanagan was in the square and the goal was disallowed. 

Fermanagh had a chance of a point almost immediately afterwards but the ball was blasted wide from close range.

And to compound matters Donegal went down the field and scored a point.

This was an effective five-point turnaround as the Tir Chonaill side went on to lead by 0-08 to 0-04 at the break.

“It was definitely no square ball but that was the call and we are not getting it back and it would have left us two points up after 15 minutes.

“We had set out our stall to keep it tight and to try and contain a high-quality Donegal side who have a number of senior players in their squad.

“And I thought we did that reasonably well for the first half but I was disappointed by the last quarter.”

He added: “In the second half we felt we were still well in it as they led by 0-10 to 0-05 by the 52nd minute when they got their goal from the excellent Paddy McElwee and there was definitely a question of a square ball here but sometimes the smaller counties don’t get the call in these matters. 

“Having said that Donegal were much the better side and McElwee was the best player on the field and we felt we had our homework done on Luke McGlynn and held him to three points from play.

“But they just had so much more creativity up front and a lot of players with senior experience.”

Fermanagh are physically strong in central slots and it showed for long periods in the first half but they will be disappointed with a return of just one point in the second half.

Meanwhile, the focus now shifts to Brewster Park in a fortnight when Fermanagh take on Cavan in a round-robin group.

“On the plus side, we are still in the Ulster Championship and we go again against Cavan and we are glad to get the extra games this year as it is very good for player development.”