Late, late goal from Niall Grimley earns Armagh a priceless draw at arch rivals Tyrone
Tyrone 0-13 Armagh 1-10
Substitute Niall Grimley struck what could be a vital blow in Armagh’s battle to avoid relegation with a dramatic equalising goal at Healy Park tonight.
Grimley punched home from Tony Kernan’s delivery four minutes into stoppage time to give the Orchard men fresh hope of avoiding the drop to Division 3.
Tyrone, already promoted with two games to spare, were not on the mood for neighbourly compassion, and they appeared to have carved out an unspectacular win in difficult conditions, leading by four points with just a couple of minutes to play.
Ronan O’Neil top-scored for the home side with five points, while Armagh’s Stefan Campbell went one better with six, and how important those converted frees could prove come next weekend.
O’Neill and Connor McAliskey hit three points each in the opening half, with Richie Donnelly also helping himself to a couple of long-range efforts.
But it was Tyrone’s defensive strategy that made life difficult for their neighbours, banks of players stationed behind the ball forcing Armagh laterally.
They did manage to win a number of frees, with Stefan Campbell converting three, but missing a couple of scoreable efforts also.
Colm Watters and Aidan Forker also contributed eye-catching scores as Armagh kept in touch, but they were fortunate not to concede a goal late in the half, when Tiernan McCann sent McAliskey through, but he blazed his shot over the bar.
Youngster Rory Brennan displayed maturity at the heart of the Tyrone defence and an ability to read the game as he averted a couple of dangerous situations. It was McAliskey’s third score, a mighty effort from distance, that sent the home side in with a 0-8 to 0-6 interval lead.
Tyrone got the wind in their backs in the second half, but their opponents displayed a defiance born out of
desperation to keep themselves in the game.
Campbell continued to hit the target from placed balls, one of them a superbly-struck ’45, but as a personal duel developed between himself and O’Neill, Tyrone’s leading scorer added another couple to his tally.
Darren McCurry stroked over a couple of frees as the gap widened and Tyrone pulled away, before Armagh’s mission became even more daunting, Watters being sent off on a second booking with 12 minutes to play.
Armagh sent Jemar Hall in to the action late on, and he almost salvaged a point, but his shot on goal was stopped by Colm Cavanagh, before Grimley made his dramatic intervention right at the death..
Scorers – Tyrone: R O’Neill 0-5 (3f), C McAliskey 0-3, D McCurry (2f), R Donnelly 0-2 each, M Bradley 0-1.
Armagh: N Grimley 1-0 S Campbell 0-6 (5f, 1 ’45), C Watters 0-2, A Forker, T Kernan 0-1 each.
Tyrone: N Morgan; A McCrory, P Hampsey, C McCarron; N Sludden, R Brennan, T McCann; C Cavanagh, M Donnelly; P Harte, R O’Neill, R Donnelly; D McCurry, S Cavanagh, C McAliskey.
Subs: M Bradley for Harte (5), B Tierney for Sludden (51), Conall McCann for McAliskey (56), P McNulty for R Donnelly (59).
Armagh: P Morrison; A Mallon, C Vernon, S Heffron; M Shields, S Connell, A Forker; J McElroy, E Rafferty; R Grugan, M McKenna, C O’Hanlon; C Watters, S Campbell, G McParland.
Subs: T Kernan for O’Hanlon (h-t), N Grimley for Rafferty (55), S Forker for McParland (59), A Findon for McKenna (63), J Hall for Campbell (68).
Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon)