Wednesday 19 December 2018

McGeeney relieved as late rally sees 'terrible' Armagh snatch unlikely victory

Armagh 1-11 Longford 1-10

Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney. Photo: Sportsfile
Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney. Photo: Sportsfile

Orla Bannon

Rory Grugan landed a glorious winning point for Armagh in the fifth minute of stoppage time, a score which could have massive significance for their promotion push from Division Three.

It was the first and only time the wasteful home side led in the game, scoring an unanswered 1-2 in the closing 10 minutes to snatch victory away from 14-man Longford in the Athletic Grounds.

"I thought we were terrible today," said Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney (pictured).

"We had 34 shots compared to their 19 or 18 but our shooting boots were terrible.

"I suppose it is a good sign that the team is coming on, that they played so poorly and can still win a game. Last year we were playing really well at times and either losing or ending up in a draw.

"It's definitely a positive in that respect - but I wouldn't be jumping up and down about how we were shooting today."

Darren Gallagher of Longford in action against Ethan Rafferty of Armagh. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Darren Gallagher of Longford in action against Ethan Rafferty of Armagh. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Longford looked set to win despite the 39th-minute dismissal of Andrew Farrell for two yellow cards and manager Denis Connerton was annoyed about Ethan Rafferty's 69th-minute goal which turned the game.

His defender Donal McElligot, who'd converted a 58th-minute penalty, appeared to be pushed in the back but play was waved on and, seconds later, Rafferty squeezed the ball inside the post.

"We feel really let down by the officials today," said Connerton.

"It's not the first time this has happened to us, unfortunately. It's so difficult to win matches, you feel that you just need a little bit more protection, and you need the officials to perform at a better level than they did today.

"Our performance in itself was magnificent."

Longford had a great start and led 0-4 to 0-1 after 16 minutes, Longford free-taker David McGivney converted two before being black-carded.

Charlie Vernon of Armagh in action against Patrick Fox of Longford. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Charlie Vernon of Armagh in action against Patrick Fox of Longford. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

The visitors played with good width and Armagh went 16 minutes without a score but then landed three in three minutes through Stephen Sheridan, Grugan and Ethan Rafferty.

Longford, and in particular Robbie Smyth, responded well to Armagh drawing level for the first time at four points each.

The corner forward landed three first-half points, a couple of them from the tightest of angles, with his trusty left boot.

Michael Quinn's snapshot from 35 metres in front of the posts put Longford 0-7 to 0-4 ahead after half an hour to restore their three-point advantage.

Ben Crealey then scored a spectacular long-range point with the outside of his right boot for Armagh, who trailed 0-8 to 0-5 at half-time.

They drew level at 0-9 each with Rafferty and Gregory McCabe on target and despite McElligot's penalty stretching Longford clear again,Armagh's late surge nicked the points.

Scorers - Armagh: E Rafferty 1-4, R Grugan 0-3 (1f), G McCabe, S Sheridan, N Grimley (f) B Crealey 0-1 each,; Longford: R Smyth 0-3 (3f), D McElligot 1-0 (pen) D McGivney (2f), D Reynolds 0-2 each, M Quinn, D Mimnagh, J McGivney 0-1 each.

Armagh: B Hughes 7; P Burns 6, A McKay 6, B Donaghy 6; N Rowland 7, G McCabe 7, M Shields 6; S Sheridan 7, C Vernon 7; R McShane 6, A Forker 6, N Grimley 6; R Grugan 7, B Crealey 7, E Rafferty 7. Subs: A Duffy 6 for McShane (45), M Stevenson 6 for Crealey (61), J McElroy 6 for Donaghy (62), A Findon NR for Sheridan (71), R Kennedy NR for Duffy (BC, 73).

Longford: P Collum 7; P Fox 6, P McCormack 6, D McElligot 7; M Quinn 8, B Gilleran 6, D Mimnagh 6; D Gallagher 6, A Farrell 5; B McKeon 6, D McGivney 5, D Reynolds 7; R Smyth 7, C Berry 6, R Brady6. Subs: P Foy 6 for McCormack (13), J McGivney 7 for D McGivney (BC, 23), R McEntire 6 for Brady (47).

Ref: Noel Mooney (Cavan).

Irish Independent

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