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Armagh boys fighting to finish after last minute Tyrone draw

Tyrone 0-13 - Armagh 1-10

By Declan Bogue

Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney wasn't exactly agreeing that Karma came back and rewarded his side, but there was something almost eerie in how they grabbed a dramatic point for themselves with the final play of this game to keep their survival hopes alive.

Having had Galway equalise with a goal in the seventh minute of injury-time in their last game, it was the fourth minute of injury time here when substitute Tony Kernan left a delivery hanging in the Tyrone goalmouth that another replacement, Niall Grimley, got his paw on to send to the net and draw level for the first time in the game.

Persistence eventually paid off for Armagh, after yet another sub Jemar Hall had a low drive stopped a minute earlier by Colm Cavanagh.

This now leaves them with a strong chance of survival, with Derry to visit the Athletic Grounds on Sunday for the final league game.

"It takes a wee bit of luck, those balls can go anywhere," McGeeney practically phewed afterwards. "Jemar, I felt, was a bit unlucky too. He took the right shot but Colm saved it.

"But I was happy in the fact the fellas kept fighting - when you are competing against Tyrone - I think everybody would agree they are one of the five best teams in the country on their day. They probably felt they played below par, but it's great to be able to mix with that kind of company and get something out of it."

Asked how significant this point could be in the context of the league season, he answered: "It's the same as last week, but for a kick of the ball against Galway and Laois, you would be sitting second. Two kicks of the ball and you are sitting bottom.

"We said at the start of the year things would be tight and teams would take points off each other. That's the way it's proven but we still have a big week ahead of us to see if we can get anything out of it."

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte was in the kind of insouciant mood only a man already promoted with two league games left could be.

While he made the point that he would be unhappy in how they conceded the late goal, he was more specific on the subject of their game-management in conditions that were never intended for football.

"You have to put everything in context tonight. The conditions were horrible and you couldn't ask people to play precision football on a night like that.

"So when you take that into consideration you can't really point the finger at anybody. They were all out there doing their best, the underfoot conditions were difficult, with bits of surface water lying on the ground, and there was obviously a team who wanted to fight for their lives out there."

He continued: "That made it a challenge for our boys and given the fact that we're already in a final, to rise yourself to that challenge. It's a big ask but I think they did a very good job and probably should have closed the game out."

Harte's real concern could be over nephew Peter, forced off after the first five minutes after a collision.

"They reckon it might be this AC joint business," said the manager of his medical staff's assessment, "but he was very sore and he couldn't carry the arm, so I don't know." Given that Tyrone only hit three wides to Armagh's 10, the Orchard county certainly deserved to gain something from this encounter.

McGeeney agreed: "I wouldn't say it felt like a victory but it definitely felt like a point."

Tyrone now travel to Brewster Park to meet another team fighting for survival in Fermanagh on Sunday.

TYRONE: N Morgan; A McCrory, P Hampsey, C McCarron; N Sludden, R Brennan, T McCann; C Cavanagh, M Donnelly; P Harte, R O'Neill 0-5, 3f, R Donnelly 0-2; D McCurry 0-2 2f, S Cavanagh, C McAliskey 0-3

Subs: M Bradley 0-1 for Harte (5m), B Tierney for Sludden (51m), C McCann for McAliskey (57m), P McNulty for R Donnelly (61m),

Yellow cards: C Cavanagh (17m), M Donnelly (62m), McCarron (68m)

Black cards: 0

Red cards: 0

ARMAGH: P Morrison; A Mallon, C Vernon, S Heffron; M Shields, S Connell, J McElroy; A Forker 0-1, E Rafferty; R Grugan, M McKenna, C O'Hanlon; C Watters 0-2, S Campbell 0-6, 5f, 1x'45', G McParland

Subs: T Kernan 0-1 for O'Hanlon (half-time), N Grimley 1-0 for Rafferty (56), S Forker for McParland (62), A Findon for McKenna (65), J Hall for Campbell (69)

Yellow cards: Watters (19, 59), A Forker (39), Rafferty (47)

Black cards: 0

Red cards: Watters (59)

Referee: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon)

Attendance: 4,255.


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