Allianz FL D1: Armagh impress at Croke Park

January 31st, 2022 | Football

Allianz FL D1: Armagh impress at Croke Park

Saturday 29 January 2022
Allianz Football League Division One
Armagh 2-15 Dublin 1-13
By Paul Keane

A Rian O’Neill inspired Armagh crowned their return to the top flight of the Allianz Football League with a stunning Croke Park performance, hitting hosts Dublin hard and early to register a landmark win.

Full-forward O’Neill finished with 1-4 and along with Jason Duffy struck a first-half goal that helped pave the way for the Orchard County to claim two important points.

There were huge performances from the likes of Rory Grugan too as Armagh opened up a nine-point lead by half-time to the delight of the travelling fans in the 22,704 crowd.

But for Dublin it won’t get any easier when they head to Tralee to play Kerry next weekend.

Five and a half months after their All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Mayo at Croke Park, this was probably another game that left boss Dessie Farrell with plenty of question marks.

He did at least get to blood more new talent having already looked at 40 different players during their successful O’Byrne Cup campaign. Former U-20 stars Lee Gannon, Ross McGarry and Lorcan O’Dell all featured with O’Dell coming off the bench and scoring 1-1 as Dublin attempted a fightback in the final quarter.

Kieran McGeeney’s Armagh paid precious little respect to Dublin’s good pre-season form or their big name players like Brian Fenton, Ciaran Kilkenny and Brian Howard who all lined out and the visitors ripped into the joint league title holders from the off.

Dublin did open up a 0-3 to 0-1 lead but it took some stout defending and a couple of excellent blocks to deny Armagh more scores in the first quarter.

Remarkably, Armagh would go on to outscore Dublin by 2-7 to 0-2 for the remainder of the half with the hosts’ defence torn asunder at times.

Experienced full-back David Byrne picked up O’Neill but the big full-forward was virtually unremarkable and helped himself to 1-3 by half-time.

His 23rd minute goal was a peach and began with a rare misplaced hand-pass at the other end of the field by Howard who was badly punished when Aidan Nugent kicked a long delivery downfield to O’Neill who found Byrne stranded and curled an expert finish beyond goalkeeper Comerford.

O’Neill added a couple of stunning points too while Rory Grugan summed up the mood of Armagh’s evening when he gathered possession with a lovely piece of footwork before playing in Jason Duffy for a point.

Duffy then produced his own cameo for Armagh’s second goal in the 27th minute, stepping around John Small and chipping the ball over Comerford’s head to the shock of the Dublin fans on the nearby Hill 16 terrace.

Either way, it had the effect of rocking Dublin back on their heels and by half-time the Orchard had opened up a huge 2-8 to 0-5 lead, almost putting the game beyond the Leinster champions at that early stage.

Farrell brought on Cameron McCormack from nearby Ballymun for his Allianz League debut at midfield, replacing Emmet O Conghaile.

McCormack was among the scorers as Dublin rallied with Rock and Niall Scully also pointing but Armagh responded with steadying scores from Grugan and Connaire Mackin.

With 15 minutes to go, Armagh were back nine ahead again following a cracking score from Tiernan Kelly, 2-13 to 0-10.

O’Dell’s 1-1 after he came on was a highlight for Dublin fans as they watched their team rally late on but there was to be no fairytale finish as Armagh held on for an impressive win.

Scorers for Armagh: Rian O’Neill 1-4 (0-1f), Jason Duffy 1-1, Rory Grugan 0-4 (0-3f), Aidan Nugent 0-1, Connaire Mackin 0-1, Stefan Campbell 0-1, Tiernan Kelly 0-1, Greg McCabe 0-1, Niall Grimley 0-1.

Scorers for Dublin: Lorcan O’Dell 1-1, Dean Rock 0-3 (0-3f), Cormac Costello 0-3 (0-1f), Sean Bugler 0-2, Brian Howard 0-1, Ciaran Kilkenny 0-1, Cameron McCormack 0-1, Niall Scully 0-1.

Armagh: Blaine Hughes; Paddy Burns, Aidan Forker, Aaron McKay; Connaire Mackin, Niall Rowland, Jarly Og Burns; Ciaran Mackin, Ben Crealey; Jemar Hall, Rory Grugan, Tiernan Kelly; Jason Duffy, Rian O’Neill, Aidan Nugent.

Subs: Niall Grimley for Crealey 35+3, Stefan Campbell for Hall h/t, Greg McCabe for Rowland 51, Ross McQuillan for Duffy 58, Mark Shields for McQuillan 62, Stephen Sheridan for O’Neill 78.

Dublin: Evan Comerford; Lee Gannon, David Byrne, Eoin Murchan; Tom Lahiff, Brian Howard, John Small; Brian Fenton, Emmet O Conghaile; Sean Bugler, Ciaran Kilkenny, Niall Scully; Aaron Byrne, Cormac Costello, Ryan Basquel.

Subs: Ross McGarry for Byrne 16, Dean Rock for Costello 30, Cameron McCormack for O Conghaile h/t, Lorcan O’Dell for Basquel 51, Sean McMahon for Murchan 68.

Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford).



Simply Fruit
Mac Interiors