Armagh show all their battling qualities to hold off Kildare

Kieran McGeeney’s side keep up Division One title challenge with a third league win

Armagh 1-12 Kildare 0-10

Armagh are nothing if not resilient. Their stubborn streak allied to their character and courage, all of which were embellished with a generous ration of skill, saw them maintain their surge at the top of the Division One table at the expense of Kildare in a tenacious battle at the Athletic Grounds.

They may have made life difficult for themselves on occasions but Kieran McGeeney’s side nonetheless kept their cool and their composure, in the second half in particular when Kildare’s discipline saw them incur censure from referee Joe McQuillan.

The home team, though, were fully extended by their visitors in the first half and it was an opportunist 20th-minute goal from Andrew Murnin that eased them into a 1-3 to 0-3 lead at a stage in the game when Kildare looked capable of exercising a degree of control.

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And indeed the visitors' resolve surfaced in a blistering seven-minute spell immediately prior to half-time when Jimmy Hyland, Daniel Flynn and Paddy Woodgate plundered points that brought their team back on level terms.

A Rian O'Neill point from a free sent McGeeney's men in with a 1-4 to 0-3 advantage and a brace of points from Rory Grugan saw the home side go further ahead before they were reined in again by the ubiquitous Hyland.

But just when it seemed that Kildare might draw on latent reserves of stamina, their penchant for conceding frees was to cost them dearly.

Stefan Campbell added an extra helping of pace when he was introduced to the Armagh attack and his two superb points allied to two more from the ever-accurate O'Neill helped Armagh to keep their visitors at arm's length in what proved to be a frenetic finish.

Indeed, the Orchard County’s teamwork, abrasive edge and ability to convert half-chances ultimately paid dividends as they closed out the game in an efficient manner.

ARMAGH: E Rafferty; G McCabe, A Forker (0-1), A McKay; B J Morgan, N Rowland, J Óg Burns (0-1); Ciarán Mackin, B Crealey; J Hall (0-1), R Grugan (0-2, one free), T Kelly (0-1); A Murnin (1-0), R O'Neill (0-3, three frees), C O'Hanlon.

Subs: S Campbell (0-2) for Hall, J Duffy (0-1) for Murnin ( both 44 mins), Connaire Mackin for Rowland (52), C O'Neill for O'Hanlon (63), N Grimley for Crealey (69).

KILDARE: M Donnellan; M O'Grady, S Ryan, R Houlihan; J Sargent, J Murray, D Ryan; A Masterson, K Flynn; F Conway, B McCormack (0-1), P Cribbin; P Woodgate (0-2), D Flynn (0-2, one mark), J Hyland (0-4, three frees).

Subs: D Kirwan (0-1) for Woodgate (45 mins), K Feeley for Masterson, K O'Callaghan for K Flynn (both 54), T Archbold for D Ryan, A Beirne for Murray (both 60).

Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).