Armagh progress to round three
● Round 2 All-ireland Sligo 1-13 v Armagh 1-19
A strong second half performance from Armagh propelled by an opening goal from team Captain Rory Grugan enabled the Orchard boys advance to round 3 of the All-Ireland Qualifiers on foot of a 1-19 to 1-13 win over Sligo at Markievicz Park.
Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney made 3 changes to his starting 15 from the team that started to 3-16 to 1-11 win over Westmeath in the last round. Ciaran Higgins, Ryan McShane and Oisin Mac Iomhair replaced Aaron Findon, Joe McElroy and Ethan Rafferty for the Sligo game
Host boss Cathal Corey showed 4 changes from the selected team well beaten 4-24 to 0-12 by Galway in the Connacht semi-final. The Tyrone native would have been delighted with the way his injury ravaged team took the game to Armagh from the outset but would have wondered how his team trailed by a point 8-7 at the short whistle following their good opening half performance.
Sligo led 3-1 after 10 minutes and 7-5 just after the half hour mark but were pegged back by a trio of Armagh points from Andrew Murnin, Niall Grimley and Ryan McShane which gave the visitors that slender interval advantage. Two points from Liam Gaughran and another from Niall Murphy to a reply from Grugan helped Sligo into that early lead but a quick brace from Grugan and Ryan McShane had the sides level. Armagh’s Grugan edged them in front but Gaughran levelled with a brace from the same player and one from Adrian Marren put Sligo 2 ahead before that late Armagh trio of points just before the whistle left them 8-7 in front at half-time. Aidan Forker was black carded near the end of the first half with his replacement Niall Grimley announcing his arrival with the first of his 6 point tally.
Rory Grugan punished a Sligo lapse in concentration to blast a 39th minute goal as he was gifted the ball by Sligo goalkeeper Aidan Devaney who miss directed his kick-out. This proved to be the killer blow as home heads dropped as Armagh tagged on another 11 points to the goal to a 5 point return from Sligo. Armagh scored 1-19 with 9 different players including goalkeeper Blaine Hughes getting a pointed free. So despite a paltry return of 7 scores against Fermanagh Armagh have racked up 19 and 20 scores in their last two Championship outings. In the closing stages Sligo’s Adrian Marren and Charlie Harrison were sent off, but Sligo finished with a flourish Cian Breheny bagged a consolation goal after they had scored their twelfth point to give the scoreboard a better complexion.
The return of Grimley and Sheridan will be a boost to Armagh who are in the pot for the round three draw on Monday morning. This time round Armagh are the only Division Three team in the hat along with Tyrone, Mayo, Monaghan and Kildare (relegated) representing Division One. Clare Cavan from Division Two and Leitrim representing Division Four. At the time of going to press the rosary beads and any help going will be called upon to pair the two minnows of the draw together.
ARMAGH: Blaine Hughes (0-1); Patrick Burns, Aaron McKay, Gregory McCabe; Mark Shields, Brendan Donaghy, Aidan Forker; Charlie Vernon, Connaire Mackin (0-1); Rory Grugan (1-5), Jemar Hall (0-1), Ciaran Higgins; Ryan McShane (0-2), Andrew Murnin (0-1), Oisin Mac Iomhair
Subs: Niall Grimley (0-6) for Aidan Forker (30, BC) Stephen Sheridan (0-1) for C Hughes (35) Niall Rowland for McCabe (57, BC) Joe McElroy (0-1) for Mac Iomhair (60), Anthony Duffy for McShane (67) Oisin Lappin for Aaron McKay (68).
SLIGO: Aidan Devaney; Charlie Harrison, Luke Nicholson, Mikey Gordon; Neil Ewing, Adrian McIntyre, Cian Breheny (1-0); Kevin McDonnell, Niall Murphy (0-3); Seán Carrabine (0-1), Liam Gaughan (0-7), Patrick O’Connor; Kyle Cawley, Pat Hughes, Adrian Marren (0-2).
Subs: Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch for Nicholson, (48), Cathal Henry for Gordon (56), Finian Cawley for Carrabine (65), James Clarke for O’Connor (68) Nathan Rooney for Hughes (69), Kevin Henry for Gaughan (70).
REFEREE: Sean Hurson (Tyrone).