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Momentum now with Armagh, says Paul Grimley

Roscommon 1-17 Armagh 1-12

By John Fallon

Armagh manager Paul Grimley believes victory in Roscommon keeps them on track for the glory days to return to the Orchard county who now face Meath in the next qualifier.

Grimley said he was in the middle of a three-year plan to get Armagh back to the top and Saturday's victory was huge in that target.

Armagh's tactic was simple. They just got huge numbers back into defence and then, painstakingly, worked the ball upfield and as Roscommon tried to defend, they would find an opening and pick off a score.

His men displayed a remarkable level of fitness to get huge numbers behind the ball at all times and knock the stuffing out of a Roscommon side who couldn't find a way through.

"We have a tight group, all the clubs in the county are behind us and this is a big win for us," said Grimley.

"It was just so important for us to put performances back-to-back as this puts us back in the top tier in the country.

"I was saying all summer that we are a 20-man team on any given day. We pick the starting 15 but we also have a selection to finish the game.

"It's worked well for us and it worked well the last few games. We are absolutely delighted," he added.

Grimley said the key thing now was to push on and make further progress after this accomplished display.

His men got a stranglehold on proceedings early on at Hyde Park and never gave Roscommon any space to operate in.

Roscommon manager John Evans said Armagh's greater experience was crucial to their success in difficult conditions.

"We just coughed up the ball that bit too easy around the centre as we went forward.

"Armagh are an experienced side and they hit ferociously hard and fair. they contested every inch of every ball and that's what championship football is all about," he said.

"In the second-half we had four or five great chances that just went barely wide and had those gone over it could have been different.

"We worked so hard and didn't get the return at that particular time but, full credit to Armagh, they stay patient and they opened up a gap there towards the end," said Evans, who added that he will now consider his position as his two-year term is up.

Armagh captain Ciaran McKeever led a solid defensive unit while up front Tony Kernan was outstanding, often emerging as the key linkman as their patient passing game wore down Roscommon.

Roscommon failed to score from play in the opening half, constantly forced to shoot under pressure from distance.

At one stage a Roscommon midfielder went forward but as he tried to shoot from just outside the 45 there were 12 Armagh players in front of him.

Armagh showed a great ability to push forward and they found the cracks to open up an 0-8 to 0-4 lead by the interval.

That gap was maintained for most of the second-half, even when Roscommon enjoyed their best spell of the game after the restart.

Hard-working midfielder Kevin Higgins fisted a point just 15 seconds into the second-half but a trend quickly emerged where Armagh were able to respond to a Roscommon score with one of their own.

The Rossies got the deficit down to two points after 46 minutes with efforts from Conor Daly and Diarmuid Murtagh, but that was as near as they got.

Armagh re-established their four points lead and then sealed the deal six minutes from time when Stefan Forker got a fist to a long delivery from another sub Aaron Kernan.

Ciaran Murtagh pulled back a goal for Roscommon in the closing stages but they never looked like saving their season and for the fourth year bow out to an Ulster side in the qualifiers.

Armagh: Philip McEvoy; Andy Mallon (0-1), Charlie Vernon, James Morgan; Mark Shields, Brendan Donaghy, Ciaran McKeever; Stephen Harold (0-2), Aaron Findon (0-1); Tony Kernan (0-4, two frees, one '45), Kevin Dyas (0-2), Stefan Campbell (0-1); Kyle Carragher (0-2), Aidan Forker, Jamie Clarke (0-3, one free).

Subs: Eugene McVerry for Forker (35), Aaron Kernan for Campbell (46), Rory Grugan (0-1) for T Kernan (60), Stefan Forker (1-0) for Carragher (63), Finian Moriarty for Shields (67).

Roscommon: Darren O'Malley; Niall Carty, Seanie McDermott, Neil Collins; David Keenan, Niall Daly, Ciaran Cafferkey; Cathal Shine (0-1), Kevin Higgins (0-1); Ian Kilbride, Enda Smith (0-1), Conor Daly (0-1); Senan Kilbride (0-1), Cathal Cregg (0-1, one free), Diarmuid Murtagh (0-5, four frees).

Subs: Ronan Stack for Carty (BS, 28-29), David O'Gara for C Cafferkey (35), Stack for I Kilbride (47), Donie Smith (0-1) for E Smith (52), Ciaran Murtagh (1-0) for Cregg (60), Michael Finneran for S Kilbride (65).

Yellow cards: Armagh – A Forker (5), J Morgan (66) Roscommon – K Higgins (5), C Murtagh (70)

Black cards: 0

Red cards: 0

Referee: Eddie Kinsella (Laois)

Attendance: 7,163

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