Armagh hurlers were left devastated once more in Croke Park after they threw away a four point advantage going into injury time to lose by a single point to a gutsy and determined Sligo side. It was the fourth final defeat in five years for Armagh.
After a harsh dismissal on 60 minutes the Orchard side rallied and went four ahead with a Danny Magee goal after he had been put through by Eoin McGuinness and a long-range Simon Doherty free. But Sligo showed great resolve and a savage will to win to pull back a point and a Gerard O’Kelly goal to draw the game level, before Kieran Prior steadied his nerves to hit the winner four minutes into the five added on.
Armagh simply did not perform on the day and will rue a number of spurned chances and a poor start, which saw O’Kelly Lynch goal within the first minute. Scores from Eoin McGuinness, Dean Gaffney and Dylan McKenna drew the sides level and another McGuinness effort from play gave Armagh the lead after 15 minutes. Sligo stalwart Keith Raymond got the first of his 0-8 tally from the dead ball, taking advantage of a soft enough free. Gaffney pointed from a free and a super score from Paddy Quinn who cut through the Sligo defence gave Armagh a two point advantage.
Both sides continued to convert frees and Sligo found themselves a point up on 30 minutes before Armagh got their first goal when the Sligo keeper failed to claim the ball after Danny Magee swung on it from a Dean Gaffney pass. The two sides finished off the half with two scores each, including a super score from Nathan Curry after a great catch from Eoin McGuinness.
Half time Armagh 1-10 Sligo 1-8
Sligo got the better start to the second period and Keith Raymond pulled it back level before the sides continued to trade scores. The score stood at 1-12 each when the referee awarded a second yellow card to Tiarnán Nevin, but after a brief rally, Armagh could not hold on to the lead and Sligo celebrated a famous victory, which sees them earning promotion for the second consecutive year and Armagh falling to a third Connacht side in the Nicky Rackard final within the last five years.
Full time Armagh 2-13 Sligo 2-14
Congratulations to Sligo.