Kelly resigns as Westmeath boss after Armagh ease to victory in Mullingar
Armagh 3-16 Westmeath 1-11
Armagh replicated their Qualifier victory against Westmeath at the same venue 11 months ago when they emerged victorious in front of an attendance of 3,000 by an unflattering 11-point margin from a hot and humid TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar last night, after which Colin Kelly resigned as Lake County manager after just one season in charge citing the amount of travel involved from his native Louth as the main reason for his departure.
Armagh started very brightly with points from Ethan Rafferty (after a mere 11 seconds) and Andrew Murnin (a minute later). However, Westmeath pounced for an opportunist goal in the fourth minute when their most consistent forward Ronan O’Toole found the net following good work by John Connellan.
Kieran McGeeney’s troops added four unanswered points, including two from Charlie Vernon, before O’Toole registered his side’s first point in the 23rd minute. The sides then evenly exchanged six points - Westmeath’s third coming from Finbar Coyne moments after his introduction - but an injury-time brace from Rory Grugan (his fourth successful free) and Jemar Hall (his second delightful finish from open play) left the Orchard County ahead by 0-11 to 1-4 at the interval.
There was a long delay shortly after play resumed as Armagh’s Ethan Rafferty was treated for a shoulder injury before the wing forward was eventually replaced. After the game, the prognosis suggested that Rafferty will miss the rest of the season, much to McKeeney’s obvious annoyance. In the 43rd minute, Westmeath goalkeeper Kevin Fagan – who had been very solid under the high ball up to that point in time – spilled a shot from Andrew Murnin over his own goal line. Armagh should have doubled their goal haul in the 53rd minute, but half-time substitute Niall Rowland screwed the ball wide from close range with the goal seemingly at his mercy.
Goalkeeper Blaine Hughes was wide from a ‘45’ for the Ulster side in the 55th minute. Westmeath had a spell of dominance but were wasteful from a number of good chances. Armagh copper-fastened their place in the second round draw with an opportunist goal from sub Anthony Duffy in 64th minute, after his initial fisted effort had come back from the upright. Grugan converted another free before another sub got in on the goal-scoring act, Gavin McParland taking Vernon’s pass and giving Fagan no chance from close range.
Armagh could have added to their goal tally in a lacklustre finale – nine minutes of added-time was played mainly due to Rafferty’s unfortunate injury – but they opted to take simple point opportunities instead and they eased their way past the home team who finished the game with 14 men when Ger Egan picked up a second yellow card in injury-time.
Armagh: R Grugan 0-5 (5fs), A Duffy 1-1, G McParland 1-0, K Fagan 1-0 (own goal), C Vernon 0-3, E Rafferty, J Hall 0-2 each, R McShane, A Murnin, G McCabe 0-1 each.
Westmeath: R O’Toole 1-2, L Loughlin 0-3 (3fs), D Corroon 0-2 (1f), K Martin, B Sayeh, G Egan 0-1 (f), F Coyne 0-1 each.
Armagh: B Hughes; P Burns, B Donaghy, A McKay; J McElroy, G McCabe, A Forker; C Vernon, A Findon; C Mackin, M Shields, E Rafferty; J Hall, A Murnin, R Grugan. Subs: N Rowland for Findon (h-t), R McShane for Rafferty (inj, 42), A Duffy for Mackin (68), G McParland for McElroy (65), O Mac Íomhair for Hall (66).
Westmeath: K Fagan; M McCallon, S Duncan, J Gonoud; J Egan, N Mulligan, B Sayeh; D Corroon, D Daly; K Martin, R O’Toole, G Egan; L Loughlin, J Connellan, C McCormack. Subs: F Coyne for D Daly (inj, 26), D Whelan for J Egan (inj, 50), C Slevin for Sayeh (63), R Wallace for McCallon (66), A McGivney for Connellan (70), J Rock for Gonoud (inj, 73).
Referee: D Gough (Meath).