Ulster SFC: Armagh edge thriller


Ulster Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final

ARMAGH 2-17 DOWN 3-13

After Extra-Time

By Orla Bannon at Pairc Esler

Armagh pulled off a great win in the Marshes, coming from thee points down in an extra-time thriller to beat Down in Newry for the first time in 63 years.

It was also Armagh's first victory in the Ulster SFC since 2014 and their lack of winning experience almost cost them down the stretch as they blew a five-point lead in the second half of normal time.

The game had so many major talking points. Just when it seemed like Armagh had done enough in the second period of extra time with a match-winning haul of 1-1 from substitute Andrew Murnin, there was one more twist when Paul Devlin's long ball into the square deflected off Jarlath Og Burns into the net with only seconds remaining.

Down were unable to find the equaliser to the relief of Armagh and manager Kieran McGeeney, who tasted victory for the time in the Ulster SFC as a manager.

Caolan Mooney's straight red card in first-half stoppage time left Down leading by 1-5 to 0-7 at the break but facing into the second half with only 14 players.

The sides were level four times in the early stages before Pat Havern's goal in the 23rd minute struck the first blow for Down. He flicked home a high ball into the square and with Armagh only converting one of six scoreable free-kicks in the first half, it was advantage Down at that stage.

They led by three, but it was quickly whittled back to one before Mooney's challenge on Burns led to his dismissal.

Down handled the numerical disadvantage well but goalkeeper Rory Burns' black card really cost them. He came way out the field with the ball, got turned over in possession and then tripped an Armagh player.

Mark Hynes came on in goals for his Ulster SFC debut and Down lost the next three kickouts, from which Armagh scored 1-2.

Mark Shields collected a nice pass floated over the top from Rory Grugan to bury the ball low inside the near post.

Armagh were leading 1-13 to 1-8 in the 67th minute and looking set the victory when Donal O'Hare scored a goal out of nothing. Paul Devlin and James Guinness landed the extra points to tie it up, and Armagh still wasted two chances deep in injury-time to snatch it, with Jamie Clarke and Stefan Campbell missing good chances.

Down were back up to 15 players for extra time and when Devlin, Guinness and Barry O'Hagan put them three points up it looked a huge lead for tiring Armagh limbs to claw back.

But a point from Ryan Kennedy just before the break followed a Campbell point immediately after the restart, breathed new life into the game again.

Murnin's point followed by a goal, flicked into the net from O'Neill's long delivery, turned the game on its head again, keeping the 15,116 inside Pairc Esler absolutely gripped.

O'Neill kicked what turned out to be the crucial insurance point soon after, meaning Down's late goal wasn't enough to stay in the Ulster Championship.

Scorers for Armagh: Rian O'Neill 0-8 4fs, Andrew Murnin 1-1, Mark Shields 1-0, Jamie Clarke, Ryan Kennedy, Stefan Campbell 0-2 each, Aidan Nugent, James Morgan 0-1 each

Scorers for Down: Donal O'Hare 1-2 2fs, Paul Devlin 1-2 2fs, Pat Havern 1-1, James Guinness 0-2, Jerome Johnston 0-2 1f, Conor Poland, Conor Francis, Connaire Harrison, Barry O'Hagan 0-1 each

ARMAGH: Blaine Hughes; Patrick Burns, Aaron McKay, Paul Hughes; Ryan Kennedy, Brendan Donaghy, Aidan Forker; Charlie Vernon, Jarlath Og Burns; Aidan Nugent, Ethan Rafferty, Jemar Hall; Rory Grugan, Rian O'Neill, Jamie Clarke.

Subs: James Morgan for Burns 7, Mark Shields for Vernon 31, Joe McElroy for Hughes 45, Stefan Campbell for Rafferty 46, Stephen Sheridan for Kennedy 64, Greg McCabe 70 Ben Crealey for Sheridan 77, R Kennedy for Nugent 77, Andrew Murnin for McCabe 80, E Rafferty for Grugan 87.

DOWN: Rory Burns; Darren O'Hagan, Ruairi Wells, Gerard Collins; Ryan McAleenan, Kevin McKernan, Daniel Guinness; Caolan Mooney, Conor Poland; Conor Francis, Jerome Johnston, Conor Maginn; Pat Havern, Donal O'Hare, Connaire Harrison.

Subs: James Guinness for Wells 26, Barry O'Hagan for Maginn 48, Mark Hynes for Burns 52, Paul Devlin for Johnston 61, Corey Quinn for Havern 61, Ryan Mallon on for start of extra time as Down go back to 15 players, J Johnston for O'Hare 80, C Poland for Guinness 83.

REFEREE: Anthony Nolan Wicklow.

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