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NFL Division One: O’Rourke relieved as Armagh beat drop

By John Campbell

Cork 2-15 Armagh 1-12: They may have lost a significant battle yesterday, but Armagh still managed to win their war of survival in the hugely competitive arena of Division One in the Allianz Football League.

Although their fellow relegation contenders Monaghan and Galway managed to beat Mayo and draw with Dublin respectively, both these teams will now make the drop into Division Two.

Armagh and Monaghan finished on four points, but the Orchard County stay up by virtue of the fact that they beat Monaghan in their head-to-head earlier in the league.

Although his side ultimately endured a six-points defeat at the hands of the All-Ireland champions and reigning league title-holders, Armagh manager Paddy O’Rourke is prepared to focus on the positives as he looks to next month’s Ulster championship clash against Down.

“Our aim right from the outset of the league was to try and stay in Division One,” he said.

“We have succeeded in that but we have to build on our performances now for the championship.”

He had watched as his side stayed shoulder-to-shoulder with the Leesiders for 60 minutes, but conceded that Conor Counihan’s side had dominated the last 10 minutes, even though they had been reduced to 14 men following the 48th minute dismissal of Eoin Cadogan after he had clashed with Steven McDonnell.

“We missed a couple of goal chances, but we put a lot of things right that were wrong against Galway a week ago,” said O’Rourke.

“The players fought for the jersey this time.”

Armagh led by 0-6 to 0-4 in the 30th minute, McDonnell by then having bagged four points with Jamie Clarke pirating the other two.

A three-point Cork blitz immediately prior to half-time thrust them into the lead and emphasised the threat that Daniel Goulding represented to the visitors.

The introduction of Donnacha O’Connor provided them with their passport to victory.

He drilled home a 38th minute penalty to which O’Rourke’s side responded a minute later with a well-taken goal from Aaron Kernan.

That was as good as it got for the Ulster side as Cork dominated the closing phase despite their numerical disadvantage.

They whipped over four unanswered points between the 62nd and 72nd minutes that copper-fastened their place in the league final Kieran Toner’s dismissal in the 72nd minute just another blot on Armagh’s copybook.

Cork: K O'Halloran; R Carey, M Shields, E Cadogan, N O'Leary, J Miskella, P Kissane (capt), A O'Connor, A Walsh (0-2), F Goold, P O'Neill, C Sheehan (0-2), D Goulding (0-7, 0-3 frees), F Lynch, P Kerrigan (0-1). Subs: D O’Connor (2-3, 1-0 pen, 0-1 free) for Lynch (half-time), P Kelly for O’Neill (56 mins), D O’Sullivan for Carey (65).

Armagh: P Hearty; A Mallon (0-1), K Toner, B Donaghy, A Kernan (1-2, 0-1 free), V Martin, K Dyas, J Lavery, C Vernon, M Mackin, B J Padden (0-1), P Duffy, J Clarke (0-4), S McDonnell (0-4, 0-1 ‘45’, 0-2 frees), M O’Rourke. Subs: T Kernan for Duffy (44 mins), G Swift for O’Rourke (55), A Duffy for Mackin (59), D McKenna for Dyas (65), F Hanratty for Padden (68).

Referee: M Condon (Waterford).

Belfast Telegraph

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