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Kieran McGeeney upbeat after Armagh suffer late blow

By John Campbell

Published 14/03/2016

On the run: Armagh's Shea Heffron tries to shake off Eddie Hoare at the Athletic Grounds
On the run: Armagh's Shea Heffron tries to shake off Eddie Hoare at the Athletic Grounds

Armagh surely used up their ration of drama and controversy for the remainder of 2016 in this spellbinding 1-15 to 1-15 Division Two draw with Galway at the Athletic Grounds.

Two dismissals, a majestic performance from man of the match Stefan Campbell, who scored 1-9, and the concession of an equalising goal in the SEVENTH minute of injury-time left the fans breathless.

Even Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney found it difficult to absorb the tension, passion and the heartbreak that unfolded. But an all-too-familiar subject surfaced in his post-match assessment.

"That's football," he sighed. "The lads showed great character, especially after the dismissals. But after nearly every game it's the same issue - referees. There's obviously a problem.

"But I am very proud of my players. It's a point lost, though."

Certainly the loss of Ethan Rafferty to a second yellow card in the 39th minute and a similar sanction for Aidan Forker in the 73rd minute militated against Armagh's cause but McGeeney will embrace the positives.

Campbell pocketed seven points in a first-half exhibition of elegant finishing. With Micheal McKenna, Brendan Donaghy and Rory Grugan providing, Campbell hit the target from all angles.

Yet the game remained deadlocked at the interval at 0-9 each.

Rafferty's dismissal arrived when the sides were again neck and neck at 0-10 each but Armagh whipped over points through Colm McWatters, McKenna and Campbell.

Victory, indeed, beckoned when Campbell drilled home a 59th penalty to leave his side in the clear at 1-14 to 0-10.

But Galway's resilience fashioned an unlikely share of the spoils. At 1-15 to 0-15 the game seemed over when Sean Denvir's lob was clinically flicked to the net by Danny Cummins in the seventh minute of added time.

McGeeney perhaps best articulated Armagh's current position when he declared: "This is where Armagh need to be. It's a learning ground but these are the hard yards players have to do."

ARMAGH: P Morrison; S Connell, C Vernon, S Heffron; M Shields, B Donaghy 0-1, J McElroy; R Grugan, E Rafferty 0-1; S Campbell 1-9 (1-0 pen), M McKenna 0-1, A Forker; C Watters 0-2, C O'Hanlon, G McParland 0-1. Subs: A Findon for McParland (40), T Kernan for Watters (58), C McKeever for Grugan (68), J Hall for McKenna (70). Yellow cards: Rafferty (11), Grugan (30), Connell (31), Vernon (35). Cards: Red cards: Rafferty (39), Forker (72)

GALWAY: M Breathnach; D Wynne, D Kyne, C Sweeney; L Silke 0-1, G O'Donnell, J Heaney; F O Currain, P Conroy 0-2; T Flynn. E Hoare 0-4 (2f), G Sice 0-1 (f); S Walsh 0-4 (1'45'), A Varley 0-1, D Comer 1-1. Subs: S Denvir for Varley (48), D Cummins for Wynn (48), E Brannagan for Sice (63). Yellow cards: Varley (31), Sweeney (51), Cummins (73)

Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone)

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