Laois prove too strong for Armagh to claim Division 2 win
Laois 1-13 Armagh 0-15
A fusion of a frenetic work-rate, indomitable courage and generous ration of skill took Laois to a hard-earned win over Armagh in Division 2.
Stefan Campbell potted three points for the home team in the first eight minutes, but Laois, with Kieran Lillis imposing at midfield and Donie Kingston deploying his experience and craft up front, grew in cohesion and confidence as the match progressed.
And after Evan O’Carroll and Kingston had landed points, Laois went in front in the 14th minute when Paul Cahillane was hauled down as he surged through, and picked himself up to smack home the resultant penalty.
At 1-2 to 0-3, Laois began to call the shots and after substitute Matthew Campion and Armagh’s Micheal McKenna traded points, the visitors upped the tempo to garner points from Cahillane, Kingston and Walsh to ease into a more comfortable position at 1-6 to 0-5.
Armagh missed a glorious chance to regain a stronger foothold in the game when Colm Watters saw his thunderous drive acrobatically deflected onto the bar by Laois goalkeeper Graham Brody in the 31st minute and when Kingston hit his third point, the visitors enjoyed a 1-7 to 0-6 lead at the interval.
Armagh, with Campbell and McKenna each plundering a brace of points, staged a strong fightback in the second half.
They laid siege to the Laois posts for a spell but when Kingston and O’Carroll landed crucial points for the visitors, the Orchard County were eventually forced to bow the knee, even though Laois lost Jamie Farrell to a red card.
Scorers — Armagh: S Campbell 0-6 (4f), M McKenna 0-3, G McParland 0-2 (f), A Forker, N Grimly, S Heffron, E Rafferty 0-1 each. Laois: P Cahillane 1-2 (1-0 pen 1f), D Kingston 0-5 (3f), E O’Carroll 0-3, G Walsh (f), M Campion, N Donoher 0-1 each.
Armagh: N McNeice; S Heffron, C Vernon, R McCaughley; S Forker, A Forker, M Shields; A Findon, N McConville; S Campbell, M McKenna, S Sheridan; C Watters, C O’Hanlon, G McParland. Subs: E Rafferty for McConville (half-time), E McVerry for McParland (47), N Grimley for Sheridan (50), J McElroy for S Forker (60), Oisin MacIomhair for Watters (61), S Connell for McCaughley (68). Cards: Yellow: Vernon (27), A Forker (69). Black; Grimley (62).
Laois: G Brody; R Kehoe, M Timmons, D Seale; D Strong, P Cotter, G Dillon; K Lillis, K Meaney; J Farrell, D Kingston, N Donoher; P Cahillane, E O’Carroll, G Walsh. Subs: M Campion for Meaney (17), D O’Connor for Strong (54), D O’Reilly for Walsh (55), R O’Connor for Campion (57)
Referee: B Cassidy (Derry).
Derry see off Cavan
The free-taking expertise of Mark Lynch held Derry in good stead after a stirring contest at Kingspan Breffni Park. In a slow-burner of a game, Derry made most of the running and were good value for their second win on the trot in division two.
Cavan nipped away at their opponents’ heels all night though and but for some last-gasp tackling by the Oak Leafers might well have nicked their first win of the NFL season.
Ultimately, Lynch’s exocets in the dregs of the game proved pivotal in sending a fired-up Cavan side to their second successive defeat in the second tier.
Given Cavan’s preferred set-up, Derry predictably edged matters on the possession front but it was the hosts who created the majority of chances in front of goal.
But eight wides in the opening half by the blues — double their opponents’ tally — served to let the Oak Leafers off the hook. The Oak Leafers were guilty of playing too much flowery football and in the conditions and against the proverbial blanket, Derry largely cut an impotent crew.
Crucially, Damien Barton’s boys squandered the only two goal chances of the first half.
Mark Craig skied a shot from point blank range over, instead of under, the bar in the fourth minute and then Ryan Bell saw his tame penalty saved by Cavan ‘keeper Galligan on bended knee in the 26th minute.
With strapping midfielder Gearoid McKiernan in inspirational form, Cavan won most of the battles in a claustrophobic middle third of the field but their failure to cash in on gild-edged point chances made their 0-6 to 0-5 interval more paper than concrete in its composition.
Within 90 seconds of the start of the second half, Cavan conceded a goal with a flurry of rapier-like handpasses culminating in Cailean O’Boyle palming the ball to an empty net.
The second half was a much more fluid, spirited affair with the end-to-end action making for a nail-biting encounter.
The hosts eventually hit the jackpot when supersub Michael Argue took a leaf out of the Premiership to rattle the Derry net in the 55th minute and so square the tie at 1-8 apiece.
Derry showed a greater spring in their step in the run-in but they needed a five-star defensive display in the dregs of the game to keep Cavan at bay.
Successive match-saving blocks by Emmet Bradley and Mark Craig were the stuff of inspiration but ultimately they needed a 64th-minute free from Lynch to get them over the line.
Scorers — Derry: C O’Boyle 1-0, J Kielt (1f), C M Faul, M Lynch (1f) 0-2 each, M Craig, E Bradley, B Heron, D Heavron, S Heavron 0-1 each; Cavan: M Argue 1-0, G McKiernan 0-3 (1f) E Keating (f), M Reilly (f), P O’Connor, C Mackey, D Givney, D McVeety, T Corr, S Johnston (f) 0-1 each.
Cavan: R Galligan; P Faulkner, K Clarke, K Brady; C Brady, C Moynagh, F Flanagan; D Givney, G McKiernan; M Reilly, T Corr, D McVeety; C Mackey, E Keating, P O’Connor. Subs: M Argue for K Brady (47); J Hayes for D McVeety (50); S Johnston for P O’Connor (53); T Hayes for E Keating (60); C Conroy for G McKiernan B.C (64); E Henry for S Johnston (74).
Derry: E McNicholl; K McKaigue, C McKaigue, C Mullan; G McKinless, M Craig, D Heavron; E Bradley, M Lynch; B Heron, C McFaul, C Bradley; C O’Boyle, R Bell, J Kielt. Subs: E McGuckin for C O’Boyle (46); N Loughlin for R Bell (51); S Heavron for B Heron (56); C McAtamney for E Bradley (68); D McKinless for C Bradley (72); N Forester for G McKinless (73).
Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon)