Friday 15 December 2017

Hat-trick hero McParland to the rescue for Armagh

ARMAGH 3-8 WEXFORD 3-8 Orla Bannon

Armagh staged a remarkable comeback from 11 points down to salvage a point against Wexford in their Division 2 match on Saturday night.

Wexford were rampant, scoring three goals in the opening 21 minutes, and Armagh faced humiliation in the Athletic Grounds.

Paul Grimley's decision not to ask Crossmaglen duo Jamie Clarke and Aaron Kernan to play some part in this game was looking like a bad call.

But three goals from substitute Gavin McParland, plus an equalising point in injury-time from fellow sub Stefan Campbell, rescued the home side.

"I stand by what I said (that the Cross' players needed to rest) but I'd say there'd have been an advert in the paper looking for a new manager had we not got dug ourselves out of that situation," Grimley said afterwards.

Wexford left with a draw that must have felt more like a defeat considering they still led by 3-8 to 1-5 with 15 minutes to go.

They started brilliantly with quick ball into Redmond Barry causing havoc and after five minutes Paddy Byrne skinned his marker for the opening goal.

Armagh's only point of the first half was a free from Stefan Forker after nine minutes but Wexford then scored an unanswered 2-2 in the next 22 minutes.

First, Barry dispatched a penalty, then a bad mistake by Armagh defender Mark Shields allowed Shane Roche to nip in and net Wexford's third goal.

McParland began the fightback with a brilliant left-footed finish in the 33rd minute as Wexford led 3-3 to 1-1 at half-time.

Armagh came out a transformed team in the second half and McParland scored his second goal in the 55th minute.

A dubious penalty, called for a foot-block on James Lavery, was converted by McParland in the 59th minute and Armagh scored the last three points as Wexford totally collapsed and failed to score in the last 20 minutes.

Wexford sub Rory Quinlivan was sent off in the last minute for a second yellow-card offence.

Their manager Aidan O'Brien admitted: "We were in such a strong position and to not come away with the two points definitely hurts".

Man of the Match: C McKeever (Armagh)

Scorers – Armagh: G McParland 3-0 (1-0 pen), S Forker 0-4 (3f), A Forker, B Loughran, E Rafferty, S Campbell 0-1 each.

Wexford: B Brosnan 0-5 (4f), S Roche 1-1 (1f), P Byrne 1-0, R Barry 1-0 (pen), PJ Banville 0-2.

ARMAGH – P McEvoy 6; M Shields 5, J Donnelly 6, D McKenna 5; C McKeever 8, A Forker 7, B Loughran 6; S Harold 5, K Toner 7; C Rafferty 6, N McConville 5, E Rafferty 6, E McVerry 5, S Forker 7, B Mallon 6. Subs: J Lavery 6 for Harold (23), G McParland 8 for McConville (26), B Donaghy 6 for McVerry (31), S Campbell for Toner (66).

WEXFORD – A Masterson 6; B Malone 7, G Molloy 8, R Tierney 6; L Chin 6, J Wadding 6, A Flynn 7; D Waters 6, C Doyle 7; M Furlong 6, B Brosnan 8, P Byrne 7; S Roche 7, R Barry 8, PJ Banville 7. Subs: R Quinlivan 6 for Doyle (42), J Holmes 6 for Furlong (55), D Murphy for Flynn (65), C Carty for Roche (68).

REF – J Curley (Meath)

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