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Two points is all that matters

February 29, 2016

Allianz National Football League Div Two Armagh 1-10 Fermanagh 0-12

Saturday night’s clash between Armagh and Fermanagh at the Athletic Grounds produced a lot of talking points and issues that will be probably be dealt with by a higher authority, but in this at times unsavoury encounter for the hosts the result is all that mattered. A first win from 3 league outings has taken Armagh out of the two relegation places and with results from elsewhere have re-opened their promotion prospects.

The drama in this feisty all-Ulster affair extended from the pitch to the players tunnel and had everyone absorbed as the game entered added on time with Armagh a point ahead. When Tomas Corrigan nailed a 45 meter free in the second minute of additional time and celebrated accordingly what everyone thought was a nailed on draw moments later Stefan Campbell got a superb match winning point with the last kick.

Amongst the biggest talking points after the game was how referee Cormac Reilly managed to see the game finish 15 a side, as there were a number of incidents that warranted straight red cards, other players on yellow were allowed to continue fouling consistently leaving spectators baffled and enthralled as the drama unfolded. Armagh’s need for victory was very much in evidence in the opening quarter as they raced into a 1-3 to 0-1 lead. The games top scorer Campbell (1-5) opened the scoring from a free inside a minute and Colm Watters doubled the lead soon after. Sean Quigley opened the visitors account 6 minutes in from a free following a foul on the ever dangerous Tomas Corrigan was fouled. Mark Shields was very influential early on and combined to set up midfielder Niall Grimley for his team’s third point.

Good tracking back and tackling saw Colm Watters rob Eoin Donnelly of possession and in the turn over the ball will drilled low inside to Campbell on the edge of the square. Stefan turned his marker and slotted the leather past a helpless Chris Snow. Armagh were well on top but injuries to Ciaran O Hanlon and Andy Murnin clearly upset their momentum Tony Kernan replaced O Hanlon and Gavin McParland in for Murnin just after the goal was scored. Tomas Corrigan and Campbell traded frees as the Ernesmen following a very sluggish start were now warming to their task. Points from the Corrigan’s Tomas and Ruari had the deficit down to a goal 1-4 to 0-4 on 23 minutes. A possible red card for Quigley went unpunished and he nearly made Armagh pay the ultimate price as he beat keeper McNeice to the high dropping ball but it bounced off the crossbar to safety.

Shea Heffron delivered a great ball to Miceal McKenna who made light of the tight angle to loft over a super point which was to be the only home score for 22 minutes as Fermanagh took control of the game. A pointed Quigley free was followed by one from half back Paddy Rehill completed the first half scoring with Armagh 1-5 to 0-6 ahead but did not end the drama. A trip on Quigley saw Tony Kernan get a Black card which then led to a shemozzle amongst numerous players. Ref Reilly thought by  sounding the whistle and sending the teams in for the break was going to settle things but further trouble erupted in the tunnel area.

The second half started with  Reilly issuing yellow cards to Aidan Forker and James McMahon before commencing play. Fermanagh were on the front foot and within 8 minutes of the restart were on level terms courtesy of points from Aidan Breen and Tomas Corrigan. If anything the 3 points supplied by Armagh’s McKenna were very timely and decisive and he edged Armagh back in front following great work by substitute James Morgan who was introduced for the black carded Watters. Rapid points from Quigley and Breen on 52 minutes put the visitors in front for the first and only time. A foul on Findon saw Campbell level matters as Joe McElroy replaced Grimley on the home team. Quigley was wide of the mark for the lead point before the best 5 man move of the game saw McKenna restore the home advantage. Tomas Corrigan made it 0-11 to 1-8 with 8 minutes to go and all to play for. In fairness to Armagh they were dogged and stuck to their task when it looked as if the visitors were going to push on for the two vital league points. McKenna and Campbell combined superbly as “Soupy” slotted over the lead score that held until the added time extra drama that followed. Armagh with a hard earned win under their belts will head to Kingspan Breffni Park next Saturday night to take on upcoming Ulster championship opponents Cavan. The Breffni men will be boosted by their first win coming from 8 points down to beat Meath by 7. With both teams on 2 points this is as are all the remaining 4 league game “proverbial 4 pointers”

Armagh – M McNeice; S Heffron, C Vernon, A Mallon; S Forker, A Forker, M Shields; A Findon, N Grimley (0-1); S Campbell (1-5, 0-3f), M McKenna (0-3), S Connell; C Watters (0-1), C O’Hanlon, A Murnin. Subs: G McParland for A Murnin, T Kernan for C O’Hanlon, N McConville for T Kernan (BC), J Morgan for C Watters (BC), J McElroy for N Grimley, J Feeney for N McConville.

Fermanagh – C Snow; M Jones, C Cullen, N Cassidy; P Rehill (0-1), J McMahon, A Breen (0-2); E Donnelly, D Kelly; B Mulrone, R Jones, K Connor; R Corrigan (0-1), S Quigley (0-3f), T Corrigan (0-5, 3f). Subs: R O’Callaghan for D Kelly, P McGovern for P Rehill, D Teague for K Connor, E McManus for R Corrigan.

Referee – C Reilly.

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