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Armagh's fighting spirit proves decisive

Monaghan 2-09 - Armagh 0-16

By Colm Shalvey

Armagh finished strongly in Clones to give their Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup campaign a boost at the expense of Monaghan.

Goals in either half from Barry McGinn and Owen Duffy had Monaghan ahead for long spells, but Armagh gained the upper hand in the final quarter to stay in contention in Group C.

Ethan Rafferty, Stefan Forker and Rory Grugan became more influential as the game went on and Armagh opened the scoring through Andrew Murnin, before McGinn and Stefan Campbell swapped points from frees. Colin Walshe brought Monaghan level, but Armagh hit back through sub Niall McConville.

Grugan doubled Armagh's lead just after Monaghan had lost Neil McAdam to a black card, but a flowing Monaghan move ended with McGinn scoring a second goal on 22 minutes.

Sub Karl O'Connell added a fine point and a McGinn free moved Monaghan three clear. A Campbell free ended 17 scoreless minutes for Armagh, before Daniel McKenna and McGinn added further points for the hosts. The Orchard County finished the half strongly with scores from Campbell and Rafferty to close the gap to two at 1-6 to 0-7.

Campbell and McGinn again swapped points from frees at the start of the second-half, before Owen Duffy cracked home Monaghan's second goal in the 44th minute. A well-taken point by McConville was followed by another Campbell free.

Rafferty halved Armagh's deficit from a free and although Kieran Duffy responded for Monaghan, Grugan again found his range from a tight angle, before Gavin McParland equalised.

Excellent points from distance by Forker and Rafferty made it five without reply for Armagh. Daniel McKenna tapped over a free after he had been hauled down by Ciarán McKeever, but Armagh held on for their first win of 2016.

Having had two men sent off in the opening defeat against Cavan, Armagh were more disciplined. Kieran McGeeney's side take on UUJ on Wednesday, while Monaghan go in search of their first win against in-form Cavan.

Monaghan: J Smith; K Duffy (0-1), D Wylie, N McKeown; D Mone, C Walshe (Capt., 0-1), D Courtney; N McAdam, M Thornton; D Malone, S Gollogly, O Duffy (1-0); F McGeough, B McGinn (1-4, 0-4f), D McKenna (0-2, 1f). Subs: K O'Connell (0-1) for McAdam (black card, 15), D Traynor for McGeough (44), K McQuaid for McKeown (inj., 50), O Coyle for Courtney (black card, 55). C McKenna for Gollogly (62).

Armagh: M McNiece; A Forker, A Findon, R McCaughey; C McKeever (Capt.), M Murray, S Forker (0-1); E Rafferty (0-3, 1f), N Grimley; E McVerry, M McKenna (0-1), S Campbell (0-4, 3f); G McParland (0-1), A Murnin (0-1), R Grugan (0-2). Subs: N McConville (0-2) for Murnin (inj, 9), J Hall for McVerry (45), J Feeney for Findon (59), O Mac Íomhair for Grugan (black card, 70), P McKenna for McConville (black card, 71).

Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan).


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