Sunday 18 February 2018

Grimley strikes crucial blow in battle to beat drop

Tyrone 0-13 Armagh 1-10

Armagh’s Niall Grimley celebrates scoring the goal that earned his side a late draw. Photo: Paul Mohan.
Armagh’s Niall Grimley celebrates scoring the goal that earned his side a late draw. Photo: Paul Mohan.
Armagh's Joe McElroy in action against Tyrone's Richard Donnelly. Photo: Paul Mohan / Sportsfile
Tyrone's Richard Donnelly in action against Armagh's Joe McElroy. Photo: Paul Mohan / Sportsfile newsdesk

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 last night.

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)

Solid Carlow make most of breeze

Carlow 0-12 Leitrim 1-4

A physically stronger Carlow had little difficulty overcoming Leitrim in a poor Allianz football league Division 4 game at windswept Páirc Seán MacDiarmada yesterday.

An early exchange of points was followed by four Paul Broderick pointed frees without reply to leave Carlow comfortably ahead after 20 minutes and although Leitrim came more into the game, Carlow led 0-6 to 0-4 at the break.

Playing with the aid of a strong wind, Carlow extended their lead early in the second half with four more unanswered points as Leitrim struggled to make headway against a massed Carlow defence but in the 55th minute a good Leitrim move resulted in a Ronan Kennedy goal to give Leitrim some hope.

However, with Brendan Murphy and Sean Gannon pulling the strings at midfield, Carlow were never in trouble and they added a further two points without reply as the Leitrim challenge faded.

Scorers ­- Carlow: P Broderick 0-4f,D Foley 0-3f, C Blake 0-2; D Hayden, G Kelly, D St Ledger 0-1 each. Leitrim: R Kennedy 1-0, E Mulligan 0-3 (1f), P Maguire 0-1.

Carlow: R Molloy; B J Molloy, D St Ledger, G Power; G Kelly, B Kavanagh, D Hayden; B Murphy, S Gannon; A Kelly, J Murphy, E Finnegan; P Broderick, D Foley, C Blake. Subs: D O'Brien for J Murphy (64mins), D Smith for C Blake (70).

Leitrim: B Flynn; M Murphy, N Woods, M McWeeney; P Maguire, G Reynolds, S McWeeney; D Wrynn, S Moran; J Rooney, E Mulligan, K Conlon; N McDonnell, R Kennedy, C Gaffney. Subs: C Canning for M Murphy (35), J McGreal for N O'Donnell (35).

Referee: P Maguire (Longford)

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