Grugan pick of Orchard bunch
Armagh 2-17 Westmeath 1-11
Armagh proved too strong for Westmeath in Mullingar yesterday, Kieran McGeeney's charges finishing strongly to emerge victorious by a nine-point margin in their Division 3 clash.
A wasteful Armagh had clocked up six wides and were two points down to scores by Ronan O'Toole and Luke Loughlin in the opening three minutes before Rory Grugan opened their account from a 19th-minute free. The Orchard County went in front some four minutes later courtesy of a scrappy goal from Ronan Lappin to lead by 1-5 to 0-5 at half-time.
Armagh were still two points to the good (1-8 to 0-9) when a great run along the endline by Loughlin in the 52nd-minute teed up James Dolan, who slapped the ball to the net from point-blank range.
However, the Ulster men responded in impressive fashion with a converted penalty by Grugan (after he had been fouled) and four rapid-fire points from play by Ryan McShane, Aidan Forker (two) and Ethan Rafferty to open up a six-point lead.
Despite some fine fielding by John Heslin, Westmeath failed to significantly bridge the gap and Rafferty excelled in the closing stages by scoring the last four points of the contest (including one free) to wrap up a vital brace of league points.
Scorers - Armagh: R Grugan 1-4 (0-2fs), E Rafferty 0-6 (1f), R Lappin 1-0, A Forker 0-3, N Grimley 0-2 (2fs), R McShane, S Sheridan 0-1 each. Westmeath: J Dolan 1-0, J Heslin 0-3 (3fs), L Loughlin 0-2, K Daly, F Boyle, R O'Toole, C McCormack, F Coyne, D Whelan 0-1 each.
Armagh - B Hughes 6; P Burns 6, A McKay 6, P Hughes 6; N Rowland 6, G McCabe 6, M Shields 8; S Sheridan 7, C Vernon 7; R McShane 6, A Forker 7, R Lappin 6; R Grugan 7, N Grimley 7, E Rafferty 8. Subs: J McElroy 6 for Rowland (49), B Crealey 6 for Lappin (60), B Donaghy 6 for Burns (60), A Duffy n/r for Shields (65), A Findon n/r for Grimley (70), R Kennedy n/r for Forker (70 + 3).
Westmeath: E Carberry 7; M McCallon 7, K Daly 6, B Sayeh 5; N Mulligan 5, F Boyle 6, J Dolan 6; A Stone 5, J Heslin 7; K Martin 6, R O'Toole 6, G Egan 5; C McCormack 6, L Loughlin 7, J Egan n/r. Subs: D Whelan 7 for J Egan (inj., 10), F Coyne 7 for Stone (46), C Slevin 5 for Mulligan (57), J Marshment n/r for Whelan (inj., 67).
Ref - M McNally (Monaghan).