Campbell fires late winner to boost Armagh prospects
Armagh 1-10 Fermanagh 0-12
Staring at potential relegation midway through the second half, when they trailed by a point having at one stage led by five, Armagh showed stubborn resistance to salvage a first league win to enhance their prospects of staying in Division 2.
Stefan Campbell took on the responsibility and nailed a spectacular 40-metre winner with the last kick of the game in the Athletic Grounds on Saturday night, seconds after Tomas Corrigan thought he'd secured a draw for Fermanagh with a long-range free in the third minute of stoppage time.
It was character-forming stuff from Armagh, and the dramatic finish saved a game that was spoiled by spiteful spats and cynical fouls.
Referee Cormac Reilly lost control of this one just before half-time, after showing a harsh black card to Tony Kernan for an alleged trip on Sean Quigley, who made the most of the indiscretion by collapsing to the ground.
That sparked a verbal joust between the Erne attacker and Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney, before a melee broke out on the stand side.
The bad tempers continued down the tunnel at half-time and for most of the second half, until Campbell and Micheal McKenna rescued the game, and Armagh, scoring four points to Tomas Corrigan's two.
"We missed some easy scores but tonight was all about getting the two points and we did that," said McGeeney. "The manner in which they did it, to get a score deep in injury-time, I'm proud of them. They got the ball to a key player (Campbell) and he took one hell of a score.
"We probably played better (losing) against Laois but we didn't show the same character or ball control. Our game management was definitely a big bonus for us."
Campbell hit 1-5, including the all-important goal in the 15th minute, rolling the defender to drill the ball low left-footed across goal.
It put Armagh 1-3 to 0-1 up, but injuries to Andrew Murnin and Ciaran O'Hanlon unsettled them and Fermanagh took control, Ruairi Corrigan and Paddy Rehill scoring from play to leave them trailing by just 1-5 to 0-6 at the break.
The impressive Aidan Breen scored a superb point from near the sideline to put Fermanagh ahead for the first time, 0-10 to 1-6 after 53 minutes, before Armagh rallied.
Tomas Corrigan twice drew Fermanagh level late on, and was sure he'd secured a draw when his long-range free dropped over the bar in injury-time. Pete McGrath admitted his own team's innocence probably cost them a point, having failed to kill the game by whatever means necessary.
"When we equalised we showed a lot of naivety in allowing them to work the ball up the field too easily. I would say if that had happened at the other end of the field ... and we've got to learn from that. We have a lot of positives to take from the game but I'd give Armagh credit, they were dangerous on the counter-attack."
Neither manager complained about the ugly scuffles that marred the game, though McGrath clearly felt Armagh were aggressors at times. Their foul count of 18 to Fermanagh's seven in the first half aside, Aidan Forker was lucky to stay on the field after committing two rugby tackles within a minute of each other in the second half, having already been booked.
"It's a pity when the play is broken up and fouling pays off. I'd leave it at that," was McGrath's measured response.
"The referee at times was very lenient and indeed, linesmen who should see these things weren't being very vigilant either."
With a couple of fouls on Micheal McKenna unpunished, McGeeney inevitably had a different view of it.
"I'm always careful about what I say because youse (media) tend to misquote me most times I talk about referees, so I'll leave it.
"We tinker around with all the things, like Congress, but one thing that continues to dog our game is that somebody still needs to show me what a tackle is.
"We don't implement the rules that we have, yet we continue to look at the symptoms, not the cause."
Scorers - Armagh: S Campbell 1-5 (3f), M McKenna 0-3, N Grimley, C Watters 0-1 each. Fermanagh: T Corrigan 0-5 (3f), S Quigley 0-3 (3f), A Breen 0-2, R Corrigan, P Rehill 0-1 each.
ARMAGH - M McNeice 6; S Heffron 7, C Vernon 8, A Mallon 7; S Forker 7, A Forker 7, M Shields 7; A Findon 7, N Grimley 8; S Campbell 9, M McKenna 9, S Connell 7; C Watters 7, C O'Hanlon 6, A Murnin 6. Subs: G McParland 6 for Murnin (20), T Kernan 6 for O'Hanlon (21), N McConville 6 for Kernan (BC, 35), J Morgan 6 for Watters (BC, 44), J McElroy 6 for Grimley (55), J Feeney 6 for McConville (63).
FERMANAGH - C Snow 7; M Jones 7, C Cullen 7, N Cassidy 7; P Rehill 8, J McMahon 7, A Breen 9; E Donnelly 7, D Kelly 7; B Mulrone 7, R Jones 7, K Connor 7; R Corrigan 8, S Quigley 8, T Corrigan 9. Subs: R O'Callaghan 6 for Kelly (55), P McGovern 6 for Rehill (58), D Teague 6 for Connor (63), E McManus 6 for R Corrigan (68).
REF - C Reilly (Meath)