Roscommon spin Armagh right round


ALL-IRELAND SFC QUALIFIERS ROUND ONE: Roscommon 1-11 Armagh 1-9ROSCOMMON STAGED a remarkable second-half recovery to turn this game at Hyde Park on its head. Armagh selector Paul Grimley said manager Paddy O’Rourke, who has been in charge for three years, hadn’t given any indication about his intentions in the dressingroom.

Inspired by the sorcery of Jamie Clarke, the visitors deservedly led by five points by half-time. However, a goal by Senan Kilbride 20 seconds into the second half changed the pattern of the game and, as the half progressed, Roscommon overwhelmed Armagh in the middle third for their most notable win since the 2010 Connacht final.

The supply to Clarke was reduced dramatically and any ball that went towards the Crossmaglen corner forward was picked up by Seán McDermott who filled the role of sweeper superbly.

Donie Shine and Cathal Cregg also stormed into a match which Roscommon should have won more easily. However, they hit eight wides to their opponents’ one to allow Armagh, who scored just 0-2 in the second half, to remain in contention.

Many Orchard County fans were unhappy with referee Maurice Deegan, who awarded Roscommon 29 frees to Armagh’s 17. Deegan’s most contentious decision came in the 64th minute when Caolan Rafferty appeared to be pulled back for what would have been a penalty but the referee ruled the full forward had gone down too easily.

Roscommon gave little indication in the first half they were going to atone for their Connacht championship drubbing by Galway six weeks previously. Des Newton made five changes from that game, including bringing in four of the side who reached the All-Ireland Under-21 final.

Nonetheless, the defence struggled and wasn’t able to cope with Clarke who threatened to win the game on his own. Yet that over-dependence on the corner forward proved Armagh’s undoing as once his threat was curbed the visitors had little else to offer up front.

Kilbride swung over the opening point with his left foot from a close-range free in the second minute. Clarke started his scoring spree after six minutes when he converted a 13-metre free from the right sideline.

Shine slotted over a 30-metre free from left of goal in the seventh minute but one minute later Clarke pounced for a deftly-taken goal after collecting a pinpoint pass from Gavin McParland.

He followed up within two minutes with a point before exchanging scores with Shine which left Armagh leading by 1-3 to 0-3 after 12 minutes.

Shine sent over a 35-metre free and after Geoffrey Claffey easily saved a ground shot from Anto Duffy, Johnny Hanratty and Aidan Forker stretched the lead to five. Shine scored his fourth free in the 26th minute but points from Clarke and Duffy left Armagh leading 1-7 to 0-5 at the interval.

Newton used half-time wisely as he sorted out the defensive uncertainty by deploying McDermott as a sweeper in front of Clarke and Seán Purcell, who had taken up marking duties on the corner forward midway through the first half. The pivotal moment came within 20 seconds of the resumption.

Shine, who was playing in the half-forward line, picked out Kilbride from the right wing and the St Brigid’s forward finished neatly to the net.

Roscommon now swarmed forward. Midfielder Cathal Shine lofted over a point in the 40th minute and, after the tireless Cregg was fouled, Donie Shine equalised from a close-range free.

Play became increasingly frenetic in the driving rain before Donie Shine nudged Roscommon in front from a 49th-minute free.

The towering Clann na nGael forward doubled the lead after 57 minutes. Substitute Donal Ward, who made a major impact, set up Karol Mannion for another Roscommon point two minutes later.

Tony Kernan responded with a point from play and Philip McEvoy made a good block to deny Kilbride what would have been the clinching goal with eight minutes left. Two minutes later Cregg chipped his ground shot over both McEvoy and the bar and Kernan’s injury-time point wasn’t enough to deny Roscommon a merited win.

ROSCOMMON: G Claffey; S McDermott, N Carty, S Purcell; N Collins, P Domican, I Kilbride; C Shine (0-1), K Mannion (0-1); N Kilroy, C Cregg (0-1), N Daly; S Kilbride (1-1, 0-1 free), C Compton, D Shine (0-7, 0-6 frees). Subs: G Heneghan for Kilroy (half-time), M Finneran for C Shine (43 mins), D Ward for Collins (55 mins), D McDermott for Compton (62 mins), J Rogers for Cregg (68 mins).

ARMAGH: P McEvoy; A Mallon, B Donaghy, D McKenna; F Moriarty, C McKeever, P Duffy; J Hanratty (0-1), K Toner; A Forker (0-1, free), K Dyas, A Duffy (0-1); J Clarke (1-4, 0-1 free), C Rafferty, G McParland. Subs: M Mackin for Forker (43 mins), T Kernan (0-2, 0-1 free) for Dyas (55 mins), C Vernon for McParland (60 mins), J Lavery for McKenna (60 mins), J Kingham for Duffy (65 mins).

Referee: M Deegan (Laois).

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