Lacklustre Armagh make hard work of it
ARMAGH diced with danger before eventually keeping their promotion hopes alive following a late surge against a gritty Tipperary outfit at Crossmaglen yesterday.
Ahead by 1-9 to 0-1 at the break, with Gareth Swift's clinically-finished goal the last slice of first-half action, the Orchard County lost their way completely in the third quarter.
Despite playing against 14 men, following Derek Bourke's 28th-minute dismissal, they lapsed into a catalogue of errors that almost had disastrous consequences.
Two gift-wrapped goals from Barry Grogan in the 45th and 63rd minutes provided Tipperary with the momentum that sustained their gallant second-half recovery and underlined Armagh's defensive deficiencies -- which must be addressed before the vital promotion battle with Donegal on Sunday week.
Once again, Stevie McDonnell was the prime source of Armagh scores, with six points, while James Lavery and Kieran Toner had things their own way in the middle until the second-half arrival of Kevin Mulryan turned the tide in Tipperary's favour and saw Armagh remain scoreless from the 37th minute until the 58th.
The visitors' industry, covering and opportunism made life difficult for Armagh and afterwards selector John Cummins suggested that they could have stolen the points.
"Armagh's goal just on the interval whistle was a sickening blow, but we showed a bit of pride in the jersey after the break and had chances to win the match," he said.
Had Tipperary not lost midfielder George Hannigan to a late red card, they might have produced a major upset. Armagh, though, remain on track for a Division 1 slot
Scorers -- Armagh: S McDonnell 0-6 (0-6f), A Kernan 0-4 (0-4f), G Swift 1-0, A Mallon, J Lavery, S Forker, K Dyas, J Feeney (0-1f) 0-1 each. Tipperary: B Grogan 2-4 (0-2f), T Dalton 0-2 (0-2f), C Aylward, B Coen 0-1 each.
ARMAGH -- P Hearty: A Mallon, B Donaghy, P Duffy; M Ferris, P Kernan, F Moriarty; J Lavery, K Toner; M Mackin, A Kernan, G Swift; B Mallon, S McDonnell, S Forker. Subs: T Kernan for Forker (55), K Dyas for P Kernan (59), J Feeney for B Mallon (69).
TIPPERARY -- M O'Donnell; C Morrissey, N Curran, P Codd; C Aylward, R Costigan, D Bourke; G Hannigan, A Rockett; J Cagney, P Austin, H Coghlan; J Tierney, B Coen, B Grogan. Subs: B Fox for Cagney (27), T Dalton for Tierney (36), K Mulryan for Rockett (46), B Jones for Austin (68).
Ref -- M Higgins (Fermanagh).