Wednesday 17 July 2019

O'Kelly-Lynch hits Armagh with both barrels

Sligo 2-14 Armagh 2-13

Sligo’s Tony O’Kelly-Lynch gets the sliotar away with Patrick Quinn of Armagh in pursuit during yesterday’s Nicky Rackard Cup final at Croke Park. Photo: Sportsfile
Sligo’s Tony O’Kelly-Lynch gets the sliotar away with Patrick Quinn of Armagh in pursuit during yesterday’s Nicky Rackard Cup final at Croke Park. Photo: Sportsfile

Two goals from Gerard O'Kelly-Lynch helped Sligo turn what looked to be a lost cause into some silverware when they came from behind to defeat Armagh.

The Yeats men trailed by three points in injury time, following two Armagh goals from Danny Magee, however O'Kelly-Lynch levelled it dramatically before substitute Kieran Prior secured victory for the Yeats men.

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Sligo captain James Weir lifts the Nicky Rackard Cup. Photo: Sportsfile
Sligo captain James Weir lifts the Nicky Rackard Cup. Photo: Sportsfile

It was hard on Armagh, who have now lost four of the last five Rackard finals. But it was history-making stuff from Sligo, who are the first county to win the Rackard Cup just a year after coming up from the Lory Meagher.

The game sprang to life inside two minutes, as dual player O'Kelly-Lynch got on the end of a long delivery from Kevin Banks. Although he couldn't control it initially, he grabbed the sliotar at the second attempt and rifled the ball into the bottom corner of the net.

The same player pointed skilfully from play midway through the half, but apart from the flawless free-taking of Keith Raymond, Sligo did not have another scorer in the opening period, until midfielder Ronan Cox landed a long-range effort in injury time.

In between that, it was a shoot-out between Raymond and Armagh free-taker Dean Gaffney, with neither missing an effort on goal from 11 attempts in total - six of them from the former.

Sligo's Rory McHugh in action against Armagh's Davy Bridges. Photo: Sportsfile
Sligo's Rory McHugh in action against Armagh's Davy Bridges. Photo: Sportsfile

The Ulster men had a few inspirational scores of their own in the opening half, with Patrick Quinn driving forward from defence to flick over, and substitute Nathan Curry landing a sweet effort from distance.

Dylan McKenna pointed twice from play as well, while full-forward Dylan McKenna also chipped in. But the big score for the Ulster men came when Sligo failed to clear their lines, and the ball went to Danny Magee in space.

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He opted to connect first time, and though the strike was poor, the ball deceived Sligo keeper Mark Burke as it dipped under the crossbar, and he could only parry it to the net.

It spurred Armagh to a 1-10 to 1-8 half-time lead, though Cox's point ensured the game was nicely poised at the break.

And O'Kelly-Lynch almost repeated his heroics in the opening stages of the second half, however his stinging effort smashed off the crossbar following a scintillating run.

The Yeats men dominated in an attacking sense after this, but eight wides meant Armagh were able to assert a three-point lead with ten minutes left, as Magee latched onto a pass from McGuinness and fired low to the net.

It was a huge boost to the Orchard County as they had lost Tiarnan Nevin to a second yellow card just 60 seconds beforehand.

But with the game looking finished, O'Kelly-Lynch claimed his second goal with a smart finish, and Prior won it in the fourth minute of injury time.

Scorers - Sligo: K Raymond 0-8 (8f), G O'Kelly-Lynch 2-1, R Cox, S Crowley, C Griffin, K Prior, J Starr 0-1 each. Armagh: D Gaffney 0-6 (6f), D Magee 2-0, E McGuinness, N Curry 0-2 each, S Doherty (1f), D McKenna, P Quinn 0-1 each.

Sligo: M Burke; J Weir, N Feehily, K O'Kennedy; K Banks, L Reidy, R McHugh; R Cox, J Starr; T O'Kelly-Lynch, C Griffin, G O'Kelly-Lynch; G Cadden, K Raymond, K Gilmartin. Subs: S Crowley for T O'Kelly-Lynch (h-t), M Gordon for O'Kennedy (47), K Prior for Cadden (58).

Armagh: S Doherty; C Rice, O McCann, P Quinn; D Bridges, C Clifford, P McGrane; O Curry, T Nevin; S Toal, E McGuinness, D Gaffney; S Renaghan, D McKenna, D Magee. Subs: N Curry for McCann (19), J O'Connor for Toal (56).

Referee: J Connors (Donegal).

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