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Orchard return to earth with a bump

Armagh 0-11 Mayo 1-14

The rich promise which Armagh offered in Division One of the National League through their champagne performances against Cork and Kerry was savagely diluted by a well-drilled, supremely fit and sharply focused Mayo side in this compelling encounter at the Morgan Athletic Grounds.

No wonder Orchard County boss Paddy O’Rourke is now considering his selection options for next weekend’s demanding assignment against Dublin in Croke Park as he surveys the debris of a defeat that was something in the nature of a tale of the unexpected.

“Mayo got off to a great start and maintained their work-rate throughout. They were fast and their work-rate was such that we could not really get into the game.

“They got scores at the right times and as well as that encouraging start they were able to finish the game strongly,” observed O’Rourke.

His side may have lost experienced duo Charlie Vernon and Brian Mallon to injury by the half-way stage but O’Rourke did not seek refuge in excuses.

“Obviously we have inexperienced boys in our side but the only way they will become better footballers will be by dealing with situations such as this.

“We allowed Mayo too much freedom at times and paid the penalty for this,” added a clearly disappointed O’Rourke.

Mayo had posted 1-4 within the opening 10 minutes with Armagh’s defence erring on the side of generosity to an embarrassing extent, particularly when it came to Andy Moran’s eighth minute goal.

Armagh’s riposte took the form of points from Aidan Forker and Mallon.

Forker landed a further brace but Mayo were in front by 1-7 to 0-6 at the break.

It was in the third quarter that Mayo really stamped their seal on the game, extending the lead to 1-11 to 0-6.

Armagh’s stubborn streak surfaced, though, with the introduction of substitutes Colm Watters and James Lavery.

The former piloted over two towering long-range points while the latter’s endeavours saw the home side gain a toe-hold at midfield for the first time in the game.

But Mayo went on to secure a six-point victory which fully reflected their superiority.

Yet Mayo boss James Horan was far from impressed.

“We played some good stuff at times but we failed to push on when we should have done.

“Armagh lost two of their most experienced players through injury, too,” declared Horan.

Armagh: P McEvoy; A Mallon, B Donaghy, D McKenna, K Dyas, P Duffy, F Moriarty, C Vernon, M Mackin, A Forker (0-6,0-5 frees), B Mallon (0-2, both frees), A Duffy,C Rafferty, J Kingham, G McParland (0-1). Subs: S Campbell for Vernon (21 mins), C Watters (0-2) for B Mallon (half-time), J Lavery for McParland (55), M Stevenson for Duffy (56).

Mayo: D Clarke; K Keane, G Cafferkey, K Higgins, R Feeney, D Vaughan, L Keegan (0-1); A O'Shea, B Moran, A Freeman (0-5, 0-4 frees), A Dillon, J Doherty, C Mortimer (0-4, 0-3 frees), A Moran (1-0), E Varley (0-4). Subs: S O’Shea for B Moran (51 mins), C Boyle for Keane (53), P Harte for A Moran (60).

Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois).

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