Armagh 1-9 Monaghan 0-16
Venue: St. Tiernachs Park, Clones
St Tiernachs Park was once a happy hunting ground, a home from home for Armagh teams down through the noughties years, however the minors round 3 clash with reigning Ulster Champions Monaghan proved a step too far on this occasion for the Orchard, although their performance was encouraging in spells.
A mixed day of sun and rain summed up Armagh’s performance as they matched Monaghan for long periods of the game, but as the burst clouds hanging over the heads of the men in orange washed through Clones town, Armagh’s challenged was simply flushed away, with the home side striving to victory with a superior second half showing.
The Monaghan men came flying out of the traps early with 2 points in the opening 90 seconds of the game. Armagh’s first attack was matched with their first score, a Ciaran Donnelly turnover allowing his team to counter attack, ending with an Oisin King point, before Monaghan made it 3-1.
The highlight of the first half without doubt came in the 10th minute, as the hard working Mark McKeever was able to turn the ball over in his attacking third of the field, beautifully side step his marker with a brilliant ‘bounce-dummy’ and coolly dispatch the ball into the Monaghan net for the games opening major.
The ‘end to end’ nature of the game continued with an equalising point for Monaghan before Armagh found themselves in front, with Oisin King feeding the on running Jack Cunningham, who swung over from close range. Dara O’Callaghan extended his sides lead with a point from the dead ball punishing the fouling defender who halted his driving run through the Monaghan defence.
Three more consecutive Monaghan points allowed them to edge in front, with a more vital blow striking Armagh in the form of losing Dara O’Callaghan due to a black card. O’Callaghan’s replaced made a immediate impact however, as James Walsh took over where O’Callaghan had left off, bursting forward from his midfield berth to send the ball between the posts.
Once again the Farney men got themselves ahead, with the first half now drawing to a close, but a Mark McKeever score insured that the sides would enter the half time interval on level terms as his first point left the score Monaghan 0-8 to Armagh’s 1-5 with the game still very much up for grabs in the second period.
3 pointed Monaghan frees provided the hosts with a bit of breathing space at the beginning of the 3rd quarter. A converted free of their own for Armagh through Oisin King reminded Monaghan his side was still within touching distance of their lead, which was soon 3 once again after Monaghan knocked over their 4th free of the second half.
Monaghan continued their dominance on the field of play as well as on the scoreboard with 2 more points (1 free) while Armagh struggled to transfer the ball out of their defensive third of the field. Oisin King once again saw his effort from a placed ball drift over the crossbar, as did James Walsh, bringing the teams within 3 points of each other, however these scores failed ignite an Armagh revival.
Monaghan’s charge continued with another point before King once more replied through a converted free. Monaghan kicked the final score of the contest, firing them further ahead to win 0-16 to 1-9. Armagh’s second half displayed failed to live up to the optimism they had built in their first half showing, the opening 30 minutes certain to encourage manager Ciaran McKeever. Their final league fixture will now take place on the 23rd of March against Derry, the side they will also face in the first round of this years Ulster Championship.
Armagh Team: Shea Magill, Orin McKeown, Adam Garvey, Shea Vallely, Michael McConville, Sean McVerry, Sean Quigley, Jack Cunningham (0-1), Dara O’Callaghan (0-1, 1free), Niall Dummigan, Caolan Reavey, Lee Rice, Mark McKeever (1-1), Ciaran Donnelly, Oisin King (0-4, 3 frees)
Subs: James Walsh (0-2, 1 free) for D. O’Callaghan (Black Card), Antoin McParland for Niall Dummigan, Sean Rocks for C. Donnelly, Thomas Og Duffy for M. McConville, Darragh McMullan for M. McKeever
By Shaun Casey