Allianz Football League Division One North
ARMAGH 1-16 MONAGHAN 1-12
By Colm Shalvey at Brewster Park
Armagh made a winning return to Division One of the Allianz Football League after a nine-year wait against Monaghan in Enniskillen. Armagh raced into a six-point lead after finding the net from a penalty from the first attack and they never trailed thereafter as they won this Ulster derby.
The sides were level six times during the third quarter after a Seán Jones goal kick-started a rally by Monaghan, but Armagh kicked five of the game’s last six scores to secure a winning start in the top flight.
Armagh got off to a flying start as Stefan Campbell tucked away a penalty just a minute into the game, before a brace of points by Rory Grugan and a Rian O’Neill ’45 doubled their lead to six. Monaghan urgently needed a lift and after Rory Beggan opened their account, debutant Seán Jones fired to the net to bring them within two.
Aaron Mulligan, Stephen O’Hanlon and Mícheál Bannigan all added their names to the scoresheet for Monaghan during the second quarter, but Aidan Forker arrived from deep to kick a brace of points for Armagh, either side of another Grugan free, to leave Kieran McGeeney’s side up by 1-6 to 1-5 at half-time.
Monaghan introduced Conor McManus for the second half and he quickly equalised, only for Forker to respond. The scores began to flow at either end, with Monaghan drawing level on a few occasions through Mulligan, O’Hanlon and McManus, but Armagh hitting back each time via Campbell, Oisín O’Neill and Grugan.
A couple of well-taken scores by Mulligan kept Monaghan in touch, but Conor Turbitt, Rian O’Neill and Grugan nudged Armagh towards the finish line. Bannigan made it a two-point game with Monaghan’s only score of the final quarter, but Armagh shut up shop and the impressive Grugan kicked his seventh point before Rian O’Neill added the insurance score in added time.
Scorers for Armagh: Rory Grugan 0-6 (3fs), Stefan Campbell 1-1 (1-0 pen), Rian O’Neill 0-3 (1 ’45), Aidan Forker 0-3, Conor Turbitt 0-2, Oisín O’Neill 0-1.
Scorers for Monaghan: Aaron Mulligan 0-5 (3fs), Seán Jones 1-0, Stephen O’Hanlon 0-2, Conor McManus 0-2 (1f, 1m) Micheal Bannigan 0-2 (1f) Rory Beggan 0-1 (f).
ARMAGH: Blain Hughes; James Morgan, Connaire Mackin, Aidan Forker; Greg McCabe; Aaron McKay, Ryan Kennedy; Niall Grimley, Rian O’Neill; Jemar Hall, Ciaron O’Hanlon, Jarlath Óg Burns; Rory Grugan, Stefan Campbell (Capt.), Oisín O’Neill.
Subs: Ross McQuillan for Burns, Conor Turbitt for McCabe (both H-T); Jason Duffy for Forker (56); Paul Hughes for O’Hanlon (62).
MONAGHAN: Rory Beggan; Kieran Duffy, Conor Boyle, Ryan Wylie (Capt.); Karl O’Connell, Dessie Ward, Ryan McAnespie; Niall Kearns, Killian Lavelle; Conor McCarthy, Aaron Mulligan, Mícheál Bannigan; Seán Jones, Andrew Woods, Stephen O’Hanlon.
Subs: Darren Hughes for Kearns, Conor McManus for McCarthy (both H-T); Kieran Hughes for Jones (46); Fintan Kelly for Lavelle (56); Barry McBennett for Bannigan; Karl McMenamin for Boyle (both 68).
Referee: Ciarán Branagan (Down).