Armagh win keeps promotion hopes alive
Armagh 1-15 Tipperary 0-12
Armagh salvaged their hopes of remaining in the Allianz Football League Division Two promotion race by getting the better of Tipperary at the Athletic Grounds yesterday.
It was the Orchard County's first victory in the competition although their cause was helped considerably by the fact that Tipperary lost the experienced Brian Fox to a red card in the 24th minute and did not register a score from play until the 55th minute.
Yet the visitors' inability to retain possession and resist their hosts' repeated counter-attack surges proved their undoing in the final analysis.
Orchard county assistant boss Jim McCorry, while relieved at the end, lost no time in pointing out that his side face three stiff tests against Donegal, Fermanagh and Cork in the coming weeks.
"This win means we are more concerned with the top half of the table rather than propping it up the bottom. But it's going to be very interesting to see how the division pans out. It has already been shown that any team is capable of beating any other team and we must now go to face Donegal next week-end knowing that they will be smarting after back to back defeats to Tipperary and Fermanagh," states McCorry.
Yesterday Armagh were cohesive and fluent for the most part and by the 20th minute had slipped into a 1-6 to 0-3 lead, their goal coming from Charlie Vernon while Rian O'Neill and Rory Grugan had already served notice of their ability to plunder points.
Liam McGrath (2) and Conor Sweeney landed Tipperary's points from frees and continued to prove their team's only source of points in the third quarter at the end of which Armagh led by 1-12 to 0-9.
McGrath's 55th minute point from play prevented what could have proved an extremely embarrassing return for his side but it was to be embellished by only one other point from play from substitute Liam Boland.
With Niall Grimley converting two '45's' and adding a brace of points from frees and O'Neill bringing his tally to three, Armagh clinically closed out the match.
The continuing emergence of Jemar Hall as a player of rare quality, the growing maturity of Gregory McCabe and Aaron McKay in defence, the exceptional skills of the highly-rated Rian O'Neill in attack and the return to action of Ethan Rafferty following a lengthy lay-off because of injury are plus-factors which McCorry enthusiastically embraces as his side prepare to intensify their drive for a place in Division One.
"I thought in this match against Donegal we took some really good scores from distance and this has to be encouraging," adds McCorry.
"I thought we could have been more accurate at times but we cannot complain. I think it's important that Tipperary came into the game having gained a reputation for scoring goals but we not only managed to keep a clean sheet but we restricted them to just two points from play which wasn't bad at all."
But McCorry sounds a warning in advance of what he feels will be a crucial period of the year for his side.
"The fact of the matter is that in two of our league games to date we have been in a position where we should have been able to close them out but failed to do," stresses McCorry.
"The fact that we were able to put away the opposition on this occasion is extremely heartening but we won't be reading too much into it.
"There are big challenges on the horizon and we have to be able to meet these if we are to make real progress but hopefully we will be able to go forward from here in positive mode."
Armagh: B Hughes; J Morgan, A McKay, P Hughes; A Forker, G McCabe, C Mackin; S Sheridan, N Grimley 0-4 (2f, 2'45s'); J Hall 0-1, R Grugan 0-4 (1f), C Vernon 1-1; S Campbell 0-2, R O'Neill 0-3, J Clarke. Subs: R Kennedy for Morgan (half-time), J McElroy for Forker (40), A Nugent for Clarke (61), P Casey for Mackin (61), E Rafferty for O'Neill (70). Yellow cards: Morgan (4), Clarke (43), Campbell (71).
Tipperary: M O'Reilly; A Campbell, J Meagher, E Moloney;C Kennedy, D Brennan, J Feehan; S O'Brien, L Casey; K O'Halloran, L McGrath 0-6 (5f), B Fox; P Austin, C Sweeney 0-6(f), P Maher. Subs: L Boland 0-1 for Kennedy (20), D O'Meara for O'Halloran (49), B Hyland for Austin (52), P Codd for O'Brien (68). Yellow cards: McGrath (4), Casey (16), Sweeney (48). Red Card: Fox (24).
Referee: Jerome Henry (Mayo)