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McGeeney lays it on the line for Armagh

Armagh 1-12 Antrim 0-13

By John Campbell

Any suggestion that Armagh were destined to freewheel into Division Two of the Allianz Football league following the score-fests they enjoyed against Offaly and Louth was clinically dispelled by an efficient Antrim side in this feisty clash at the Athletic Grounds.

His side may have totted up 9-37 against their two previous opponents but manager Kieran McGeeney now knows for sure that gaining elevation in status will be a nail-biting exercise.

They meet Tipperary next Sunday knowing that they have to win and McGeeney makes no bones about the enormity of the challenge.

"We have a lot to work on because Tipperary are a strong physical side. They have big men up front and we have to be ready for them," he maintains.

Certainly, a vibrant Antrim side asked big questions of McGeeney's men by staying on their shoulder for the greater part of the game.

Yet a game which had been played in a combative but sporting manner for the most part, exploded in the closing stages with Antrim's Conor Murray and Stephen Beatty and Armagh's Stephen Sheridan incurring red cards.

Ciaran McKeever's 15th goal propped up the home team's challenge while C J McGourty's consistency from the placed ball saw him grab four points as the teams enjoyed parity of esteem at the interval (1-3 to 0-6).

Armagh eased into a more comfortable 1-11 to 0-9 lead but Antrim's response saw McGourty bring his personal points haul to nine and he might well have earned cult hero status had he converted a 62nd minute penalty which was well saved by Blaine Hughes.

But the wheels came off Antrim's effort in the closing minutes when referee Niall Cullen was forced to employ the ultimate sanction just when the Saffrons looked as if they could salvage something from the tie.

Armagh: Hughes, Morgan, Vernon 0-2, Hughes; Rowland, Donaghy, McKay 0-1; Sheridan, Crealey; Grimley 0-1, McKeever 1-1, Grugan 0-1; McParland 0-2, Campbell 0-1 (1f), Clarke 0-1. Subs: Forker 0-1 for Crealey (33), O'Hanlon for Grimley (42), Duffy 0-1 for Campbell (52), O'Neill for McKeever (54), Heffon for Rowland (65). Yellow cards: Morgan (8), Hughes (73). Black card: Findon for Forker (67), Red card: Sheridan (64).

Antrim: Kerr; Hamill, Gallagher, Healy; P McBride 0-2, Lynch, McAleer; Dowling, Beatty; Niblock, McCann, Fitzpatrick; McGourty 0-9 (7f, 1'45'), Murray 0-1, Bradley 0-1. Subs: Delargy for McCann (45), McVeigh for Dowling (47), Yellow cards: Hamill (13), McBride (24), Dowling (46), McAleer (75). Red Cards: Murray (65), Beatty (66). Black Card: Small for Lynch (63).

Referee: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh)

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