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Last-gasp penalty from Marren denies Orchard County victory

Sligo 1-14 Armagh 2-11

By Steve Malone

Adrian Marren broke Armagh hearts with a converted penalty on the last kick of the game to secure a draw.

The Orchard County looked to be cruising with 10 minutes to play. They led by six points and had Jamie Clarke and Stefan Campbell leading the attack and appeared to have had the game in the bag.

But Roscommon referee Paddy Neelan bewildered the crowd by awarding a penalty in the last minute of additional time.

While the Orchard camp can be angry with the manner of that decision they aren't blameless in allowing a six-point lead slip.

Ethan Rafferty opened the scoring with a powerful 40-metre strike between the posts after great approach play between Shields and Campbell.

Sligo stayed with Armagh through frees, with four of the first half seven frees shared between Michael Breheny and Adrian Marren.

Rafferty put Armagh back in front from a free after Anto Duffy was fouled but Marren (free) and the lively Niall Murphy put Sligo in front for the first time with 15 minutes played.

Armagh had a stroke of good luck when keeper Aidan Devaney touched the ball on the ground outside his area and Rafferty duly punished with a converted free to level.

But Armagh self-imploded for the remaining 10 minutes of the half, with McNiece being blown up for taking too long with his kick outs, which Breheny punished with a converted free, Marren tagged on another free and then Murphy squeezed over a fine point from play as they trailed 0-07 to Armagh's 1-05 at the break.

Armagh's attack was bolstered with the introduction of Kieron O'Hanlon and Jamie Clarke.

Oisin O'Neill, on his National League debut, stuck over a neat point and Campbell fired over two scores to keep Armagh on the front foot.

Then Clarke linked up with his Crossmaglen club-mate O'Neill who fed to Mark Shields and the St Killian's man rattled the net. Rafferty and Campbell extended Armagh's lead to six points with 10 minutes to go.

And again Armagh crumbled with goalkeeper McNeice being blown up for taking too long with his kick outs for the second time. Marren tapped over three points, including a beauty from play before the late, late penalty decision, which ensured a share of the spoils.

Sligo scorers: Adrian Marren (1-06, 1-0 pen, 5f), M Breheny (0-4, 4f), N Murphy (0-2), A McIntyre (0-1), K Cawley (0-1).

Armagh scorers: E Rafferty (1-05, 4f), S Campbell (0-04), M Shields (1-0), C Higgins (0-1), O O'Neill (0-1).

Belfast Telegraph

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