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McDonnell leads demolition crew

The 2-19 to 0-8 demolition of Westmeath in Crossmaglen was just the tonic new Armagh manager Paddy O'Rourke and his team needed as a confidence booster.

The Down man saw his charges beaten by a single point at Navan against Meath last week, but lessons were learned and put to good use yesterday.

The majestic Stephen McDonnell grabbed 1-9, all from play, the only blemish on his record a missed free-kick in the 72nd minute which hit an upright. The game bodes well for the rest of the Division 2 campaign.

"It was an all-round good display by the team," said McDonnell.

"We put the scores on the board and that's where it all counts."


Speaking of his own attitude and desire, McDonnell said: "I've said it before that over the last couple of years I probably lost a bit of the hunger, but certainly I know I haven't too many years left at this level, so I'm going to give it everything I have."

There wasn't much Westmeath manager Brendan Hackett could take from that display. Once McDonnell finished off a fine move to score Armagh's first goal after six minutes, the trend of the game was set.

Westmeath had patches of good play in that first half, with hard-working Donal O'Donoghue, David Duffy, Paul Greville, Denis Glennon and Conor Lynam combining well through the field at times.

The problem was that Aaron Kernan and Charlie Vernon roamed between the respective '40s' to great effect and Ciaran McKeever played a strong role as a breaker and starter of attacks from the centre-back position.

At half-time, with Armagh leading by 1-9 to 0-5, Westmeath brought on three subs -- James Durkan for Damien Healy, Ronan Doolin for Tommy Warburton, and Francis Boyle for O'Donoghue.

For the first seven minutes of that second half, Westmeath had Armagh pinned in their own half, but they failed to capitalise on that and once Ryan Henderson raised the siege with a break-away point after 44 minutes, the Westmeath resistance broke into scrappy and disorganised play.

Swift inter-passing between Stevie Mac and Charlie Vernon opened the way for Finnian Moriarty to slam the ball to the Westmeath net after 52 minutes.

Late in the game McDonnell was denied a second goal by a fine near-post save by Westmeath goalkeeper Gary Connaughton.