Clarke helps Armagh get off the mark
Armagh 3-8 Longford 2-9:Armagh registered a first competitive win under Paul Grimley on Saturday night largely thanks to an imperious display by Jamie Clarke.The Crossmaglen player marked his return to inter-county action by scoring 1-2 and setting up the remaining 1-3 of Armagh’s half-time total, including a 17th minute goal for Stefan Forker, as they led 2-5 to 1-5 at the break.
Francis McGee scored 2-2 for Longford, including a goal three minutes from the end, but it was the skills of Clarke which had most people shaking their heads as they left the Athletic Grounds.
“Jamie is a special talent and he showed it again tonight,” said Armagh manager Paul Grimley afterwards.
“If there was a transfer market, every county in Ireland would want him.
“He was very clinical in the first-half and it was great to see all the Crossmaglen boys back. They are a special bunch of players.”
Tony Kernan was also instrumental in Armagh securing their first win in Division Two, coming off the bench to score 1-1 in the last seven minutes. He showed nerves of steel to convert a last-minute 45, after Longford had closed the gap to a point, to help Armagh hold on.
While Armagh clicked up front and dominated midfield, McGee caused major problems for their full-back line with both corner-backs replaced.
Longford, who have now lost their three games in this division by a combined tally of four points, kicked eight wides in the second-half.
Seán McCormack missed some vital frees but still kicked 0-7 on the night.
The first-half was played at a serious tempo with an array of quality scores, but the second-half was awful and there was no score from play until McGee’s point in the 62nd minute. He also had the final touch on a second Longford goal three minutes from the end but Kernan’s 1-1 wounded the visitors.
Longford manager Glenn Ryan admitted: “when you put in an effort like that and you have nothing to show for it, it’s devastating really”.
ARMAGH:P McEvoy; G McCooey, J Donnelly, S Finnegan; A Kernan (0-2, frees), B Donaghy, C McKeever; J Lavery, S Harold; K Dyas (0-1), S Campbell, C Rafferty; J Clarke (1-2), S Forker (1-2, 0-1 free), J Hanratty. Subs: J Morgan for Finnegan (25 mins), D McKenna for McCooey (47 mins), T Kernan (1-1) for Hanratty (51 mins), B Mallon for Campbell (51 mins). LONGFORD:D Sheridan; D Brady, B Gilleran, P Foy; M Quinn, K Diffley, S Mulligan; J Keegan, M Brady; B McElvanney, D McElligott, A Rowen; F McGee (2-2), P Barden, S McCormack (0-7, 0-6 frees). Subs: D Barden for P Barden, CP Smyth for Diffley (both half-time), N Mulligan for Keegan (58 mins). Referee: Michael Duffy (Sligo).