Armagh’s second half goals see them past Antrim

After a promising first-half Antrim faded after the break at the Athletic Grounds

Armagh’s Rian O’Neill scores a penalty against Antrim. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Armagh 4-15 Antrim 0-14

Armagh’s experience coupled with their physical power and ability to score from distance was enough to see off Antrim and set up an Ulster semi-final meeting with near neighbours Monaghan.

Antrim came to the Athletic Grounds hoping to build on the form that saw them elevated to Division Three recently but after a promising first-half they faded after the break as Armagh took control. Nevertheless Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney believes his side still have work to do before they square up to Monaghan:

“I would not have been satisfied with the way we played in the first-half of this game although we improved in the second period. A pleasing aspect of it was that we had substitutes who came on and performed well,” said McGeeney afterwards.


With Conor Stewart lively in midfield and Odhran Eastwood and Ryan Murray in particular posing a threat up front, Antrim were only a point in arrears at the end of the first quarter (1-3 to 0-5) with Rory Grogan having scored Armagh’s goal in the 11th minute.

As Antrim maintained their tenacious assault leading up to half-time, the Orchard County were forced on to the defensive although Rian O’Neill’s three points proved central to their interval tally of 1-6. While Antrim went in at the interval with 0-7, with Patrick McBride and Ryan Murray leading the way in the scoring stakes.

But an unfortunate error by the otherwise impressive Antrim goalkeeper Luke Mulholland in the 45th minute saw him concede a penalty and when Rian O’Neill drilled his effort into the corner of the net there was no way back for the visitors.

From there Armagh stepped up the pace considerably, brought a greater intensity to their tackling and minimised errors as they forcibly stamped their imprint on the contest.

And when McGeeney deployed his strength in depth from the bench they certainly did not let him down. Conor Turbitt was the first to make his presence felt by stabbing home a 55th minute goal and not to be outdone Tiernan Kelly took a leaf from his book and finished a sweeping move to the net in the closing moments to seal victory.

Armagh: B Hughes; J Morgan, C Mackin (0-1), R Finn; G McCabe (0-1), C O'Hanlon (0-1), A McKay; N Grimley, O O'Neill (0-1); J Hall, R O'Neill (1-6, one penalty and six frees), J Og Burns (0-2), R Grugan (1-2), A Murnin, S Campbell. Subs: C Turbitt (1-0) for Murnin (half-time), T Kelly (1-0) for Campbell (45 mins), C O'Neill for Grimley (48 mins), P Burns (0-1) for McKay (58 mins), B Donaghy for McCabe (62 mins).

Antrim: L Mulholland; E McCabe, R Johnston, P Healy; M Jordan, J Laverty, D McAleese (0-2); C Stewart, N McKeever (0-1); R Murray (0-3, two frees), M McCann, P McBride (0-2); O Eastwood (0-1 free), R McCann (0-2 frees), C Murray (0-2, one frees). Subs: T McCann for R Murray (44 mins), M Sweeney for Stewart (54 mins), C Small (0-1) for McBride (54 mins), K Small for Eastwood (59 mins), E Walsh for Jordan (69 mins).

Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone).