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Injury-time Sligo goals break Armagh hearts

Armagh 2-13 Sligo 2-14

Cruel defeat: Armagh’s Shaun Toal at the final whistle
Cruel defeat: Armagh’s Shaun Toal at the final whistle

By Coilin Duffy

Armagh suffered injury-time heartbreak as a strong finish earned Sligo their first Nicky Rackard Cup success since 2008 at Croke Park on Saturday.

In an evenly balanced encounter, Padraig O'Connor's charges led by 2-13 to 1-12 with eight minutes remaining, but failed to score again as Sligo came good in injury-time, to claim a one-point win.

The sides were tied on seven occasions, before the 60th minute dismissal of Tiernan Nevin on a second yellow card, looked like it might cost Armagh.

But the Orchard County regrouped, firing 1-1 unanswered, including a second goal of the afternoon from Sean Treacy's clubman Danny Magee.

This helped Armagh take a hard-earned four point lead, before Sligo's strong finish.

Sligo manager Daithi Hand felt his side didn't play to their potential, but was thankful that they grabbed the win.

"We've had a game-plan all year, and the idea was to utilise our inside forwards and the pace that we have," the Monaghan native said.

"Given the fitness our lads have we are probably one of the fittest teams in all tiers below the Liam MacCarthy Cup.

"We wanted to utilise that, and in order to do that the ball has to move quickly, and I thought at times we overkilled the ball a bit.

"I'd say that made the game a bit tougher for us than it was."

Sligo netted after just two minutes through Gerard O'Kelly-Lynch - with Armagh grabbing a 31st minute goal from Magee - with both also scoring a goal each in the second half.

Armagh finished the first half strongly, with Dean Gaffney impressive from placed balls, and Nathan Curry on target, they took a 1-10 to 1-8 interval lead.

Following Danny Magee's second goal of the game, and a Simon Doherty point, the Orchard County moved 2-13 to 1-12 ahead with eight minutes remaining.

Connor Griffin cut the gap to a goal with Sligo's first score in 18 minutes, but the Connacht side pressed hard in injury-time.

Five minutes of injury-time followed, with Gerard O'Kelly-Lynch grabbing a goal to level matters. The dual star then netted his second goal of the game in the second minute of injury-time.

Sligo continued to press, with Kieran Prior edging them ahead a minute later, and although Armagh piled on pressure in the closing minutes, they couldn't find the equaliser they craved.

SLIGO: M Burke; J Weir, N Feehily, K O'Kennedy; K Banks, L Reidy, R McHugh; R Cox 0-1, J Starr 0-1; G O'Kelly-Lynch 2-1, C Griffin 0-1, K Gilmartin; T O'Kelly-Lynch, K Raymond 0-8, 7f, 1 '65, G Cadden. Subs: S Crowley 0-1 for T O'Kelly-Lynch HT; M Gordon for O'Kennedy 44; K Prior 0-1 for Cadden 57.

ARMAGH: S Doherty 0-1, 1f; C Rice, O Quinn, P Quinn 0-1; D Bridges, C Clifford, P McGrane; O Curry, T Nevin; S Toal, E McGuinness 0-2, D Gaffney 0-6, 6f; S Renaghan, D McKenna 0-1, D Magee 2-0. Subs: N Curry 0-2 for McCann 20; J O'Connor for Toal 55.

Referee: James Connors (Donegal)

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