Armagh progress to Round 2B of the All-Ireland championship after a 2-17 to 2-7 win against Wicklow in the Athletic Grounds on Saturday afternoon. Armagh were completely dominant early in the first half and points from Andrew Murnin, Caolan Rafferty and two from Jamie Clarke had them four in front. Points were then traded between Wicklow’s Darren Haydn and the Grange’s Miceal McKenna to leave it 0-5 to 0-1, but if Armagh had of taken their goal chances early on they could have been well ahead in the early stages. What followed next had Armagh fans among the 6083-strong attendance scratching there head as John McGrath finished to the net, with the equalising score coming from the boot of Paul Cronin from a dead ball. Ethan Rafferty restored calm to the Orchard ranks when he hit a lovely score, quickly followed up by two further points from Clarke and a second effort from Andrew Murnin who won a high ball in from Campbell. The half time score stood Armagh 0-9 Wicklow 1-2 with all nine Armagh scores coming from play.
The visitors got off to the best start in the second half with points through Ciaran Hyland, Paul Cronin and half time substitution Conor McGraynor, with Ethan Rafferty raising the white flag from a free. Further scores from Stefan Campbell and Miceal McKenna were cancelled out by corner forward Paul Cronin, but Armagh pushed ahead again with scores from Aidan Forker and Miceal McKenna, as Harps duo Declan McKenna and Mark McConville entered the game. A high ball in to the Wicklow full forward line bounced kindly for substitute James Stafford who turned and half-volleyed the ball to the net to bring the margin down to just one with ten minutes remaining, but Armagh refused to panic. Ethan Rafferty added two, one from a 45 and one from play and with just two minutes remaining, Jamie Clarke added to his 0-4 from the first half when he buried the ball to the net to leave the score 1-16 to 2-7. Caolan Rafferty added another score before the game closed off with Clarke rounding three defenders and getting his second three pointer of the game. Ciaron O’Hanlon, Stefan Forker and Gavin McParland made late appearances in the game and the loudest cheer of the day was afforded to St Paul’s Andrew Murnin who received a standing ovation. Final score Ard Mhacha 2-17 Cill Mhantáin 2-7
Ard Mhacha: Matthew McNeice, Michael Murray, Charlie Vernon, Seán Connell, Andy Mallon, Brendan Donaghy, James Morgan, Caolan Rafferty 0-2, Ethan Rafferty 0-4 (0-1f, 0-1 45), Aidan Forker 0-1, Miceal McKenna 0-3, Tony Kernan, Stefan Campbell 0-1, Andrew Murnin 0-2, Jamie Clarke 2-4
Subs used: Declan McKenna for Aidan Forker, Mark McConville for Seán Connell, Ciaron O’Hanlon for Tony Kernan, Stefan Forker for Stefan Campbell, Gavin McParland for Andrew Murnin