Banner steal from the Orchard

February 4, 2019

 ● Allianz National League Division 2 round 2 – Armagh 1-13 (16) Clare 2-10 (16)

Armagh drew for the second week in a row and will rightfully feel that once again even more so than last week that it is a point lost rather than gained. 14 man Armagh (Jamie Clarke straight red 30 minutes) began the second half 2 points in arrears 1-8 to 1-6 but by the 33rd minute they held a 1-13 to 1-9 lead but Clare’s best player David Turbidy twice from the sideline, firstly with a terrific point followed by a deflected goal from near the same spot left the long long way to Clare from Newry an awful lot shorter for the Banner as they picked up their first League point.

Armagh started Rian O’Neill at full forward instead of Jarly Og Burns from last week’s starting team and Charlie Vernon replacing Ryan McShane from the programmed team. Clare manager Colm Collins handed a League debut to goalkeeper Pierce De Loughrey and brought in half backs Conal O hAinifein and Dean Ryan from the team that started in their home loss to Donegal.There was a big crowd at Pairc Esler for the game with the hard frosty playing surface giving cause for concern before the game got underway.

Some 25 seconds after the throw-in the game was held up for 12 minutes as Clare’s Dermot Coughlan (making his second ever League start) was stretchered off with a suspected broken ankle. On the restart Stephen Sheridan and Connaire Mackin combined to set up Niall Grimley for the opening point. Goalkeeper Blaine Hughes then denied Gordon Kelly a goal at the expense of a point with a terrific save in what was Clare’s first attack. Indeed the opening 10 minutes produced goalkeeping excellence as the Clare custodian excellently saved an exquisite Campbell lob and followed up minutes later with a great block to deny Vernon.

Armaghs Jemar Hall and Clares Dale Masterson

The visitors were ahead 4-2 on the wides count when O Neill followed up his converted mark with another point from play to stretch the Armagh lead to 3-1. The defensive runners from Armagh were causing the Banner endless trouble as the tackling and games tempo stepped up a notch. Kieran Malone on 27 minutes added a second Clare point as Armagh defender Aaron McKay picked up the game’s first of many cards, dished out by Meath referee Cormac O’Reilly. Midfielder Brennan then delivered the ball to dangerman David Tubridy who restored parity at 3-3 with his first score off his mark and moments later Jamie Clarke was given a straight red card.

The loss spurred on Armagh as Jemar Hall fisted a point and the ever dangerous raiding defender Greg McCabe was fouled by Masterson (Yellow) and Grimley doubled the lead 5-3 from the resulting free. Turbidy saw his goal attempt just clear the crossbar to reduce the deficit to the minimum as Mark Shields saw yellow. The board for the added time of 12 minutes had just been raised when half back Dale Masterson levelled matters from distance. Armagh looked to have grabbed a foothold on the game as Campbell offloaded to Grugan who in turn placed McCabe in as the Shanes man rattled the net. Straight from the kick out McCabe’s fellow club player Connaire Mackin pointed Armagh into a 4 point lead, 1-6 to 0-5.

Niall Grimley slots one over for Armagh

But Clare were to finish the half on a high hitting 1-3 without reply. Tubridy had reduced the home lead with a brace of pointed frees when the controversial Clare goal arrived. Early substitute Gavin Cooney (in for the unfortunate Coughlan) bore down on goals and his fisted point attempt dropped into the Armagh net with the goal allowed to stand as the ball deflected off a defender. Armagh fired wide of the upright through Grugan (yellow card) and Sheridan before Tubridy completed the scoring following good work by Malone as Clare held a 1-8 to 1-6 interval lead. 

Armagh had earned all the plaudits as they completely bossed the entire second half until the added-on time restricting Clare to a single point for 33 minutes as they turned a 2 point deficit into a 4 point lead. A third point for Rian O’Neill opened the second half scoring as Hall &Malone had an altercation for which they both got yellows. A great defensive intervention by McKay produced a textbook counter attacking point as Armagh closed out a full length 5 man pitch length move with Charlie Vernon lofting over the leveller 1-8 apiece after 45 minutes. Grimley and Tubridy traded pointed frees as Joe McIlroy came in for Campbell in the Armagh attack.

With 15 minutes left on the clock numerical parity was restored as Clare’s Cathal O’Connor got a straight red and moments later banner defender Kelly got a yellow for a foul which saw Grimley point Armagh into a 1-10 to 1-9 lead. Ryan McShane replaced Vernon and with 10 minutes to go O’Neill offloaded to McCabe who doubled the Orchard lead and when a couple of more Armagh points followed via sub McIlroy and a super second from Hall it looked as if the Banner had been well and truly lowered. But in a carbon copy to the end of the first half Clare found a telling response to steal a point from the Orchard and will probably feel it is compensation for their championship defeat the last time the teams met.

Jamie Clarke wins the ball in front of Clares Gary Brennan

Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney must be really frustrated as he knows that his team should be sitting joint top of the table with 4 points instead of being in fourth place in the table in which all 8 teams have picked up at least a point and only 3 points separates top from bottom of the table. Division Two was reckoned to be possibly the tightest of all of the divisions and with 4 draws in the opening 2 rounds that assumption is proving true

Armagh-Blaine Hughes; Aaron McKay, James Morgan, Mark Shields; Connaire Mackin (0-1), Greg McCabe (1-1), Aidan Forker; Stephen Sheridan, Niall Grimley (0-3); Jemar Hall (0-2), Rory Grugan (0-1), Charlie Vernon (0-1); Stefan Campbell, Rian O’Neill (0-3), Jamie Clarke Subs- Joe McIlroy (0-1) for Campbell, Ryan McShane for Vernon, Jason Duffy for Shields

Clare – Pierce De Loughrey, Kevin Harnett, Cillian Brennan, Gordon Kelly (0-1); Conal O hAinifein, Dean Ryan ; Dale Masterson (0-1) Gary Brennan Cathal O’Connor; Cian O’Dea, Jamie Malone, Dermot Coughlan ; David Tubridy (1-7), Keelan Sexton , Kieran Malone (0-1). Subs: Gavin Cooney (1-0) for Coughlan, Eoghan Collins for Masterson, Darragh O’Hanlon for K. Malone, Gearoid O Brien for J Malone, Cormac Murray for Sexton.

Referee: Cormac O’Reilly (Meath).

Allianz FL2 2019 P W D L Dif Pts

Donegal 2 2 0 0 5 4

Kildare 2 1 1 0 3 3

Meath 2 1 0 1 2 2

Armagh 2 0 2 0 0 2

Fermanagh 2 0 2 0 0 2

Clare 2 0 1 1 -3 1

Cork 2 0 1 1 -3 1

Tipperary 2 0 1 1 -4 1