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Rafferty injury overshadows Armagh's victory

Westmeath 1-11 Armagh 3-16

By Conor McKenna

Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney rued the loss of talisman Ethan Rafferty, with the talented forward suffering a serious injury during Armagh's 3-16 to 1-11 victory over Westmeath, in what was a one-sided encounter in TEG Cusack Park.

"We're happy with the performance and the result, but losing Ethan is a big blow to us. When you've somebody kneeling on top of somebody, at the very least, I know if I was kneeling on top of somebody there would be repercussions. The thing is when you protect something and there's never any accountability it's not going to change and that's what we are, that's where we stand."

McGeeney also confirmed Rafferty has been ruled out for the remainder of the campaign.

"He's gone for the year. It's massive (blow). He's playing out of his skin for us this year. I feel for him - he's a good kid."

Westmeath manager Colin Kelly announced his resignation in a statement released by Westmeath GAA after the game, with the Louth native hinting that it may be time for a Westmeath man to take on the job.

"It's a massive commitment for me," Kelly said. "I've a young family getting to the age now - I've a young girl and boy playing soccer and Gaelic in Dublin."

"We've had some fun along the way and maybe it's time for a Westmeath man to take it on," he added.

Armagh were on top from start to finish with McGeeney's side full value for their 11-point victory and will be a tough test for any side in the upcoming qualifiers.

Goals from substitutes Anthony Duffy and Gavin McParland, along with an own goal from Westmeath goalkeeper Kevin Fagan aided Armagh, as the Orchard County await their fate in today's qualifier draw.

Armagh came through four rounds of qualifiers last season to reach the All-Ireland quarter final and will be hoping for something similar this time round, with momentum crucial in their bid for success.

Scorers for Westmeath: R O'Toole 1-2, L Loughlin 0-3 (3f), D Corroon 0-2 (1f), F Coyne, B Sayeh, K Martin and G Egan (1f) 0-1 each.

Scorers for Armagh: R Grugan 0-5 (5f), A Duffy 1-1, C Vernon 0-3, K Fagan own goal and G McParland 1-0 each E Rafferty and J Hall 0-2 each, G McCabe, R McShane and A Murnin 0-1 each.

Referee: D Gough (Meath).

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