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We need to be a little bit better: McGeeney

Armagh 0-15 Roscommon 3-10

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On the board: Roscommon’s Cian McKeon celebrates scoring a point

On the board: Roscommon’s Cian McKeon celebrates scoring a point

�INPHO/Ryan Byrne

A dejected Jamie Clarke

A dejected Jamie Clarke

�INPHO/Ryan Byrne

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On the board: Roscommon’s Cian McKeon celebrates scoring a point

The ascent to Division One of the Allianz Football League is proving rather more torturous than Armagh had anticipated.

Even the cushion of home advantage at an admittedly deserted Athletic Grounds could not provide the Orchard County with the impetus to take a positive step towards the top tier at the expense of a Roscommon side that struggled to find their rhythm in the first-half before finding a winning symphony after the break.

For Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney, this defeat provided food for thought but has not dispelled justifiable hopes that elevation to the top flight can still be attained.

"Over the course of the past two or three years we have been getting up there but it takes time," said a pensive McGeeney.

"That seems to be the way of things in Armagh. I still think this side is beginning to get there all the same.

"But I have to say that this defeat is disappointing, it definitely is.

"I don't want to take away from Roscommon's performance because they are a quality side.

"I think we just have to try and become that little bit better if we are to make that step up.

"I think Roscommon showed their experience in that they were able to get the lion's share of any of the free-kicks that were going, they are cute and you could just tell that they have played at the higher level before."

Yet at half-time Armagh looked to be about to engage cruise control.

They led by 0-8 to 1-3 after the O'Neill brothers Oisin and Rian, aided and abetted by Rory Grugan in particular, had kept the Roscommon defence on its toes.

But if Enda Smith's superbly struck 33rd minute penalty threw Roscommon a lifeline, then a similar strike by the same player in the 42nd minute effectively launched his side's surge to victory. Two minutes later Roscommon full-back Conor Daly ploughed upfield to bury the ball in the Armagh net again and suddenly at 3-4 to 0-10 the winning post was now in sight for the visitors.

The O'Neill duo, Aidan Forker and Mark Shields, were in the vanguard of Armagh's defiance but their efforts were to no avail - not when Ciaran Lennon, Ronan Daly and the imperious Conor Cox swept over the flurry of late points that all but stamped Roscommon's passport into the top bracket.

Visiting manager Anthony Cunningham was more than happy to pocket the two points.

"I thought we were nervy in the first-half but we got it together after the break," said Cunningham.

Armagh: B Hughes; R Kennedy, A Forker, P Burns; C O'Neill, J Morgan, C Cumiskey (0-1); N Grimley, O O'Neill (0-4); C Turbitt, S Campbell, M Shields; R Grugan (0-3), R O'Neill (0-6, 2f), J Clarke (0-1, 1f).

Subs: J Burns for Turbitt (45mins), A McKay for Kennedy (50), J McElroy for Campbell (53), C McKenna for O'Neill (53), J Hall for Cumiskey (65)

Yellow cards: O O'Neill (35), J Morgan (42), R O'Neill (47), Grugan (68).

Roscommon: Roscommon: C Lavin; D Murray, C Daly (1-0), S Mullooly; R Daly (0-2), B Stack, N Daly; C Compton, T O'Rourke; N Kilroy, E Smith (2-0, 2pens), C McKeon (0-2); C Lennon (0-1), C Cox (0-5, 2f), C Cregg.

Subs: C Devenney for Kilroy (42mins), C Murtagh for Cregg (43), C Hussey for Daly (54), S Killoran for O'Rourke (59), E Nolan for Compton (63).

Yellow card: Murray (12).

Referee: David Gough (Meath).

Belfast Telegraph


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