Armagh awake from Slumber in time

March 30, 2010

N.F.L. Division Two Armagh 1-15 Tipperary 2-08

It is now time for the alarm bells to start ringing as Armagh, for the second successive outing, failed to come out of the dressing room for the second half. In Newry last week a point at the start of the second half was followed by a second score of the half some 35 minutes later. At home to Tipperary this week a point on the restart put Armagh 1-10 to 0-1 in front yet with 8 minutes left on the clock t14 man Tipperary were level 1-11 to 2-8. Thankfully this time round Armagh woke out of their slumber just in time to rattle off four unanswered points for victory.

In the opening match of the league in Navan Armagh expounded an awful lot of energy in clawing back a big Meath deficit but a hanging on Meath were given a lifeline by a soft free from the referee. What goes round comes round is the saying and in Crossmaglen, with Tipperary in the ascendency and looking likely winners, Armagh were given a fortutious free which was expertly converted by substitute Tony Kernan and Armagh kicked on from there with another late substitute, Joe Feeney, getting fouled allowing Aaron Kernan double the lead. Still Tipp were not done with star man Barry Grogan (2-3) denied his hat-trick of goals by Hearty who had gifted him his first goal with a dreadful mistake. Tipperary lost midfielder George Hannigan to a second yellow cant remember him getting the first but they were being needlessly dished out like confettie for trivia before a Stevie McDonnell free followed by the last score of the match from another substitute Kevin Dyas killed off what was by now a 13 man Premier County challenge.

While the win keeps Armagh’s push for promotion down to the last match in Donegal one wonders if the fare in Cross is worthy of Division One status. Inside 2 minutes Stevie McDonnell, from a free following a foul on Andy Mallon, opened the scoring for wind assisted Armagh. We yawned our way through the next 16 scoreless minutes as Tipperary dominated the error ridden possession stakes without posing any real threat since their very first attack which saw Hearty pull off a smart save from Philip Austin.  By the time the first score from play arrived from James Lavery in the 22nd minute Stevie had taken his score count from frees to three. Half back Christopher Alyward not for the first time, lost his footing and gave away a free converted by Aaron Kernan 5-0. Yet another free from Aaron and one from Stevie followed for which saw half back Derek Bourke picked up a second yellow and Tipp faced 45 minutes numericall disadvantaged. An Armagh forward Aaron Kernan scored for the first time from play, and we had played 29 minutes. A fifth converted free of the half from Stevie took it to 9-0 before Tipp opened their account as referee Higgins gave them a soft free, one thought so that they would not end the half scoreless. Grogan converted. Forker hit Armagh’s fifth wide of the half before Armagh landed, what everyone thought was the knock-out punch. Gareth Swift began the move which involved Lavery, Aaron, Stevie, Forker before Harps man Swift hit the right note with a well taken team goal 1-9 to 0-1 at the short whistle.

On the restart Brian Mallon fed Forker who got his name on the scoresheet, as Armagh went 12 points to the good, and Lavery wasted a good goal opportunity as goalkeeper Matthew O’Donnell smothered his weak attempt. Grogan pointed a Tipp free before he capatalised on a costly error by Hearty as he missed the ball on the 14 yard line allowing the man from the Glen of Aherlow sweep the ball along the ground into an empty net. Grogan play and substitute Brian Coen pointed, as the visitors score 4 times in as many minutes to cut the deficit to 6 points.1-10 to 1-4. With a quarter of an hour left it was a four point game as Grogan (Play) and substitute Timmy Dalton (free) raised white flags. It was the raiding Andy Mallon who lifted the siege with his teams first score in 21 minutes. Tony Kernan replaced Forker and Kevin Dyas came in for Paul Kernan as it continued to look as if Tipp had the extra man.  A half -time change of boot made Alyward more steady on his feet in the second half which was villified by him surging forward to get in on the scoring act on the hour 1-11. The margin was down to a goal following a great free conversion from a very acute angle by impressive sub Dalton.

The reliable Andy Mallon fumbled the ball which allowed three Tipp players to descend on Hearty and they calmly passed the ball across goal to Grogan and unbelievably the sides were level 1-11 to 2-8 and one of the greatest comebacks ever was very much on the cards.

But as already mentioned Armagh arose from their slumber in time to prevent disaster and get the points which had looked to everyone in the ground but a mere formality at the interval. On their first visit to Armagh Tipperary showed why they drew with Down and beat Meath. Up from division three they will make a quick return but have shown that they are not out of place in the second division. Deprived of their quarter of U-21 stars for this match with Armagh, as they contest the Munster final in that grade with Kerry this week Tipp under John Evans have made great progress.

Paddy O’Rourke admitted that his team had totally switched off but said they showed great character to fightback when it looked as if Tipperary were going to prevail. They responded well to the situation which had developed and finished strongly with four unanswered points. Donegal will be a tough assignment but one you will be looking forward to as it is ideal championship preperation. At the start of this league campaign promotion was the aim and that outcome is still very much in our own hands.

Armagh – P Hearty, A Mallon (0-1), B Donaghy, P Duffy, M Ferris, P. Kernan , F Moriarty ,.J Lavery (0-1) K Toner, M Mackin , A Kernan (0-4), G Swift (1-0), B Mallon , S McDonnell (0-6), S Forker (0-1) Subs- T Kernan (0-1) for Forker, K Dyas (0-1) for P Kernan, J Feeney for Mackin, R Henderson for B Mallon

TIPPERARY-M O’Donnell, C Morrisy, N Curran, P Codd, C Aylward (0-1), R Costigan, D Bourke, G Hannigan, A Rockett, J Cagney, P Austin, H Coughlan, J Tierney, B Coen (0-1), G Grogan (2-3) Subs- B Fox for Cagney, T Dalton (0-2) for Tierney, K Mulryan for Rockett, B Jones for Austin.