Ulster SFC quarter final round
Armagh 1-15 Down 1-10
Armagh surprised beaten All Ireland finalists Down,in the quarter final of the Ulster Championship at the Athletic Grounds on Saturday night. The Orchard County were slow off the blocks in each half but showed the greater resolve and deserved the victory.
Down made the better start to the game and led by 0-2 to 0-00 after 4 minutes,with Mark Poland and Marty Clarke scoring points from frees. However, Armagh hit back in the fifth minute with a well taken goal from Jamie Clarke. The Orchard County increased their lead a minute later,when corner back Kevin Dyas came up the field and kicked over a fine score. Armagh led by three when Clarke beat his man and knocked over another point minutes later.
Clarke was causing all sorts of problems for Down and when he was fouled close in,Steven McDonnell scored from the resultant free. Declan Rooney reduced the gap with a point but Billy Joe Padden popped up to get his first point in the Ulster championship and give Armagh a four point lead. It was all Armagh at this stage and Aaron Kernan kicked a point from a free to make it a five point game. The same player made it 1-06 to 0-3 soon after and the game looked to be getting away from Down.
Down needed something special to get back in the game,and it came in the 22nd minute, when Mark Poland scored a wonder goal. The corner forward showed real composure to beat four Armagh defenders and fire to the net. However, his side did not immediately build on that score and Malachy Mackin and Padden added Armagh points to leave it 1-08 to 1-03. Marty Clarke pointed a free to reduce the lead to four points and suddenly Armagh looked vulnerable. Paul McComisky and Marty Clarke pointed to make it a two point game(1-08 to 1-06) just on the half hour mark and it remained that way until the break.
Marty Clarke scored the first point of the second half to leave just the minimum between the teams, and Paul McComisky tied the contest soon after. The game slowed up a little after that and it took seven minutes before the next score, again from Clarke. That effort gave Down the lead but Aaron Kernan pointed for Armagh to level once more. Jamie Clarke gave the Orchard County back the advantage with a nice score minutes later. Kernan then pointed to make it two points before Danny Hughes replied for Down. Jamie Clarke gave the Armagh men back the advantage again when he tapped over from close range.
Mal Mackin scored his second point in the 58th minute to give Armagh a three point lead. Billy Joe Padden broke free to kick the Orchard County into a four point lead and with seven minutes to play it looked the decisive score. With three minutes to play Aaron Kernan ran forward to kick an excellent score and that proved to be game over. In the finish Armagh just showed the greater hunger and fitness and it was enough to see them through to a semi final meeting with Derry.