Armagh hurlers will once again head to Croke Park for an All-Ireland final after a brilliant win against Tyrone in a pulsating semi-final played out in Inniskeen on Saturday. Armagh showed grit and determination, and a superb work-rate to win through to the Nicky Rackard final on Saturday 22 June.
Tyrone opened the scoring within seconds of the throw-in and the sides traded scores with Odhrán Curry, Shaun Toal and Dean Gaffney hitting points for Armagh before goalkeeper Simon Doherty weighed in with a huge free. The next score was a superbly-worked individual effort with Danny Magee taking on the Tyrone defence and calmly placing the ball in the net to push the Orchard 1-4 to 0-3 ahead.
Tyrone talisman Damian Casey was once again on form and kept Tyrone in touch with some fantastic strikes from the dead ball. Eoin McGuinness weighed in with his first score in a game where he caused plenty of headaches for the Tyrone rearguard. A Dean Gaffney free and a great score from Odhrán Curry were cancelled out by Casey frees, one after a great stop from Simon Doherty to prevent a Tiarnán Morgan goal, as Armagh continued to hold a narrow lead going into half time in spite of a growing wide count. Armagh’s wastefulness and the accuracy of the superb Damian Casey meant Tyrone only trailed by a point at the short whistle.
Half time Armagh 1-9 Tyrone 0-11
Tyrone hit the ground running in the second half with points for Casey and Lorcán Devlin and a goal from the former putting them four points clear. Armagh has a goal chance too but had to be content with a converted 65 from Odhrán Curry. Scores from Casey and Tiarnán Morgan pushed them five ahead but a great goal from Eoin McGuinness give Armagh a huge lift 11 minutes into the half. Gaffney coolly slotted over three consecutive scores, the first a great effort from play and a Matthew Mulgrew score leveled matters.
Armagh pushed ahead again as they regained a foothold with Gaffney and Eoin McGuinness points, but they could have finished Tyrone off when Eoin McGuinness’ was through on goal but shot wide. Casey was again on hand to pull Tyrone back into the game, but Armagh showed fantastic resolve as an in-form Eoin McGuinness and Dean Gaffney continued to fire over with Danny Magee and Dylan McKenna winning plenty of ball and Paddy McGrane, Shaun Toal and Stephen Renaghan working hard in the final period. At the other end, Tiarnán Nevin applied huge pressure to Casey who hit a couple of efforts wide and Caolán Rice, Paddy Quinn and David Bridges cleared plenty of ball to the delight of the Armagh support. Ciaran Clifford and Artie McGuinness put in another huge shift and a couple of good stops from Simon Doherty ensured that Armagh would take their place in the 2019 Nicky Rackard final.
Full time Armagh 2-19 Tyrone 1-20
Armagh take on Sligo in the Nicky Rackard Cup final which will take place on Saturday 22 June in Croke Park, time (tbc).