Tuesday 17 October 2017

Armagh make most of Mattie Donnelly dismissal

Armagh 0-13 Tyrone 0-10 - ALL-IRELAND SFC QUALIFIER

In a typically hard-fought tall-Ulster affair, Tyrone's Colm Cavanagh is tackled by Tony Kernan of Armagh during their qualifier clash at Healy Park. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
In a typically hard-fought tall-Ulster affair, Tyrone's Colm Cavanagh is tackled by Tony Kernan of Armagh during their qualifier clash at Healy Park. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Armagh's Peter Hughes prepares to catch the ball under pressure from Tyrone's Brendan Donaghy during their qualifier clash at Healy Park. Photo: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE
Tyrone's Stephen O'Neill shapes up to get an effort away as Charlie Vernon of Armagh looks on during their qualifier clash at Healy Park. Photo: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE
Armagh's Aaron Kernan gets a shot away as Tyrone's Ronan McNabb closes in on him during their qualifier clash at Healy Park. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
A disagreement breaks out between Armagh and Tyrone players during the opening minutes of their qualifier clash at Healy Park. Photo: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

YOUNG children with stars in their eyes dream of glory on the big day at Croke Park, of soaring catches, of dramatic points and goals, of bringing the Sam Maguire Cup home.

I don't think any lad would say to his daddy: "I can't wait for the day when I go out to play for my county and 25 or more of us get to roll around, wrestling, fighting, and scuffling with each other."

So hopefully the young kids among the attendance at this turgid encounter at Healy Park, Omagh, averted their eyes when practically all the players threw themselves at each other instead of the ball at the start of the game.

Referee Cormac Reilly waited for the scrap to wind down, then booked only two players – Mattie Donnelly of Tyrone and Armagh's Aidan Forker.

The Donnelly booking was to have a big consequence for the home side, as he committed a second yellow-card offence on the half-hour mark and got his marching orders.

Down to 14 men for the next 10 minutes – the ref allowed almost five minutes for injury stoppages – and then for the entire second half, Tyrone had left themselves a task that eventually proved too much for them.

They were four points down at half-time (0-7 to 0-3), and did well to haul themselves back level twice, but eventually succumbed to superior forces.

Armagh players and supporters won't care about the quality of the fare. They brought their brand of winning ugly to the game and got the job done.

Tyrone were no angels in the physical stakes either, but more relevant, their football was too error-strewn and off-key to let them get away with this one.

Manager Mickey Harte articulated the Tyrone view as he contemplated staying on for at least another year in charge of the Red Hand side.

"It's not a good day when you go out of the championship and your second chance is used up," he said. "We can't argue about it, Armagh came and played well and dominated the game.

"They maybe got the rub of the green here and there but I have to admire the energy our players put into after Mattie was sent off.

"Armagh were able to pick off enough scores and fair play to them. It was enough to beat us and it was very disappointing but I can't argue with it."

Right now Harte intends to fulfil his deal with the county board and stay until at least the end of 2015, but for older Tyrone players such as Stephen O'Neill and Conor Gormley, time will tell.

These stalwarts of the glory days came on as substitutes – Gormley after 33 minutes and O'Neill after half-time.

They made a strong impression, as did goalie Niall Morgan, who reacted with five good saves. O'Neill won three frees in a row quickly after half-time, and assisted a point by Niall McKenna.

Gormley's power and guile also helped power the 14 men forward on a series of raids. The problem was that Tyrone only played in fits and starts.

Armagh were well served by the heavily-marked Jamie Clarke, by Andy Mallon, and the free-taking expertise of Tony Kernan. Both sides rolled out the subs in the second half, and for a while it appeared that Tyrone might pull off a great escape.

They were helped by Armagh wastefulness up front late in the game when the Orchard County side needed to translate superiority into scores.

Tyrone's last point came in the 47th minute via a free by Darren McCurry to level the scores at 0-10 each.

Jamie Clarke showed his quick thinking to snatch a 52nd-minute point to edge Armagh ahead. Clarke had been brought to the ground as he tussled for possession, and as the play moved away from him, he looked out of the move.

However, he ignored a little off-the-ball 'attention' from a Tyrone opponent to jump up, regain possession and clip the ball over the bar. Additional scores by subs Aaron Kernan and Rory Grugan then pushed Armagh to 0-13 with eight minutes left.


Tyrone fought hard to try and get a goal to equalise, as Armagh kept them in the game by squandering four good chances.

Sean Cavanagh moved into the edge of the Armagh square hoping for a killer pass but got only one real sight of goal.

It came when a Conor Gormley-Stephen O'Neill move put Cavanagh into full-throttle mode as he attacked from the edge of the Armagh defence, close to the end line, in the 65th minute.

The best he could do was try a fisted effort, but the ball rebounded off the upright and Armagh counter-attacked.

Sub Stephen Harold failed to make the most of that chance. As events transpired, there was no harm done to Armagh by that miss.

Scorers – Armagh: T Kernan 0-4 (3fs, 1 '45'), J Clarke 0-3 (2fs), A Mallon, M Shields, S Harold, S Campbell, A Kernan, R Grugan 0-1 each. Tyrone: S Cavanagh 0-5 (5fs), D McCurry 0-2 (2fs), N Morgan (f), K Coney, N McKenna 0-1 each.

ARMAGH – P McEvoy 6; A Mallon 7, J Morgan 6, M Murray 6; M Shields 6, C Vernon 6, C McKeever 5; S Harold 5, A Findon 5; S Campbell 5, A Forker 5, K Dyas 5; T Kernan 6, S Forker 5, J Clarke 6. Subs: A Kernan 5 for J Morgan (41); K Carragher 5 for S Forker (44); R Grugan 5 for A Forker (55); B Donaghy 5 for T Kernan (66); F Moriarty for McKeever (BC 67)

TYRONE – N Morgan 7; J McMahon 5, R McNamee 5, PJ Quinn 5; R McNabb 5, M Donnelly 5, A McCrory 5; C Cavanagh 5, S Cavanagh 6; E McKenna 5, K Coney 5, C McGinley 5; D McCurry 5, N McKenna 5, C McAliskey 5. Subs: C Gormley 6 for McNamee (32); B Tierney 5 for McGinley (33); S O'Neill 6 for McAliskey (h-t); M Penrose 5 for Quinn (48); M Donnelly for Coney (62)

Ref – C Reilly (Meath)

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