Monday 9 December 2019

Forker applies finishing touch for clinical Armagh

Armagh 1-17 Roscommon 1-12

Roscommon's Conor Daly in action against Charlie Vernon, Armagh
Roscommon's Conor Daly in action against Charlie Vernon, Armagh
Kevin Higgins, Roscommon, in action against Aaron Findon, Armagh
Neil Collins, Roscommon, in action against Kyle Carragher, Armagh
Tony Kernan, Armagh, in action against Seánie McDermott, Roscommon
Conor Daly, Roscommon, in action against Charlie Vernon, Armagh

John Fallon

Armagh football is on the move again and they backed up their dismissal of Tyrone with a forceful display which killed off Roscommon in their own backyard at Hyde Park.

Armagh 1-17 Roscommon 1-12

This was an impressive showing from a super-fit Armagh side who just smothered the life out of a Roscommon team who had come into the match full of confidence after their win over Cavan.

Stefan Forker fisted home the clinching goal six minutes from time but there really wasn’t any doubting that they were going to win at that stage when they led by four. Armagh had too much strength in possession and wore down Roscommon with an accomplished display. Armagh’s tactic was simple in the opening half — get as many men as possible behind the ball and work it from deep.

They showed remarkable strength from the outset to sustain this on a murky, humid evening with lots of rain making the surface greasy. Armagh showed a great ability to hold possession, often working half a dozen handpasses before a kick into space as Roscommon were forced to tackle in numbers.

Roscommon were starved of possession and with Armagh getting men back into defence, they were forced to shoot under pressure from distance.

The net result was that Roscommon failed to score from play in the opening half and ended up hitting seven wides, six of them from play, and trailed by 0-8 to 0-4 at the break.

In contrast, Armagh made good use of what they created and by the time Stephen Harold had their first wide after 19 minutes, they had five points on the board. Jamie Clarke got little space from Niall Carty but Tony Kernan was a key figure in the Armagh attack from the start, landing a sublimely struck ’45 to get them off the mark before adding a couple of more points and being central to most good things they produced.

Their style of play was illustrated after 14 minutes when corner-back Andy Mallon was involved in one of six handpasses from deep inside Armagh’s half before continuing his run forward and was picked out by Tony Kernan before he shot a good point. A Cathal Cregg free reduced the margin to 0-5 to 0-4 after 20 minutes but Roscommon did not score for the remainder of the opening half.

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Roscommon stepped up a gear after half-time with Kevin Higgins punching over a point after just 15 seconds. But Armagh were able to respond every time Roscommon got a score and when Armagh goalkeeper Phillip McEvoy did well to deal with a goal effort from Kevin Higgins with 10 minutes remaining, there was still four between them. Diarmaid Murtagh reduced the margin to a goal but Stephen Harold put four between them again.

Armagh remained full of running to the end and after Senan Kilbride left a goal between the sides, they wrapped up the issue. Harold got another point and then sub Stefan Forker, on the field just seconds, got a fist to a long delivery from Aaron Kernan, with Kevin Dyas pointing immediately afterwards and suddenly Armagh led by 1-16 to 0-11 with five minutes left.

Roscommon battled to the end and Ciarán Murtagh fired home a goal with a rebound effort but they never looked like saving the day as Armagh kept up their effort right to the end to run out deserving winners.

Scorers — Armagh: T Kernan 0-4 (1f, 1’ 45), J Clarke 0-3 (1f), S Forker 1-0, S Harold, K Carragher and K Dyas 0-2 each, S Campbell, A Mallon, A Findon and R Grugan 0-1 each. Roscommon: D Murtagh 0-5 (4f), C Murtagh 1-0, C Shine, K Higgins, D Smith, S Kilbride, C Cregg (f), C Daly and E Smith 0-1 each.

Armagh: P McEvoy; A Mallon, C Vernon, J Morgan; M Shields, B Donaghy, C McKeever; S Harold, A Findon; T Kernan, K Dyas, S Campbell; K Carragher, A Forker, J Clarke. Subs: E McVerry for Forker (35), A Kernan for Campbell (48), R Grugan for T Kernan (50), F Moriarty for Shields (66).

Roscommon: D O’Malley; N Carty, S McDermott, N Collins; D Keenan, N Daly, C Cafferkey; C Shine, K Higgins; I Kilbride, E Smith, C Daly; S Kilbride, C Cregg, D Murtagh. Subs: D O’Gara for Cafferkey (35), R Stack for I Kilbride (48), D Smith for E Smith (52), C Murtagh for Cregg (60).

Referee: E Kinsella (Laois).

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