Orchard buds rally late
Tuesday, 1 July 2014
Monaghan 0-09. Armagh 1-18.
THE Orchard County left it late, but did just enough to secure an Ulster Minor Final against Donegal, after beating Monaghan in Clones on Saturday evening.
Armagh manager Paul Doyle admitted he played a risky strategy and was thankful it paid off.
“We watched Monaghan the last day and they filtered men back which left us with two men standing spare but we got that addressed and pushed one of our half backs up and then coming near the end when we needed scores we took a defender off and put a forward on," said Doyle.
“It was a gamble, it could have gone the other way as Monaghan could have scored and that would have been us done and dusted but you have to gamble at this stage.
“We knew that our fitness levels would kick in. We had 10 minutes to go for it and it worked out for us."
The game wasn't a great spectacle but Armagh showed tremendous character and them became a much more orgainised side in the second half.
Crossmaglen's Aidan Rushe did a great man-marking job on Monaghan captain Barry McGinn, Dromintee's Ryan Hughes looked lively early on. Killeavy's Kyle Mallon adapted to his sweeper role and Belleek's Fergus Quinn was solid in defence.
Jarlath Og Burns, Shane Conlon and Oisin O'Neill worked hard but the Armagh defensive system didn't allow them to exert their own pressure and have a greater influence on the game, although O'Neill's late point was inspirational.
It wasn't a surprise Armagh trailed at half-time as they were set-up to invite Monaghan to attack and it was no surprise they duly obliged but luckily for the Orchard County Monaghan left their shooting boots behind.
The game began brightly for Paul Doyle's men with Dromintee's Ryan Hughes firing over a long range point with only a minute on the clock.
Monaghan captain Barry McGinn quickly leveled with a converted free but Armagh soon notched on scores and the early indications where they could inflict damage on their opponents.
Firstly Oisin O'Neill squeezed his shot between two markers to point from 35-metres and a minute later Hughes grabbed his second of the day, this time from an impressive 40-metres but that transpired to be their last score until another 21 minutes.
Monaghan took control with captain McGinn their main threat. Armagh decided to play two extra defenders marking space thus encouraging the Farney lads on. Monaghan's lively Mustafa Gamal was allowed to roam free and his side counter-attacked in groups.
Maginn tapped over two points, one free and the scores were level with seven minutes played and it took them almost another 20 minutes to take the lead and again Armagh quickly responded with a point from Hughes.
Both sides kicked four wides in the first half but McGinn grabbed his fourth point and third converted free to give Monaghan a deserved lead at the break.
Half-time: Monaghan 0-04 Armagh 0-03
The second half was only a minute old when Jack Rafferty was black carded, with Conor Cullen replacing him. But the game swung in Armagh's favour when at 20-metre's from goal Conor Grimley struck a sweet half-volley into the net. Kyle Mallon sent a long ball in, it was broke down by a Monaghan defender and Madden's Grimley struck the loose ball beautifully for a magnificent goal.
If it was scored at the World Cup, it would be considered among the best.
Cullen and Monaghan's McGinn traded frees but Dermot Gleeson levelled the score on 46 minutes and David McAllister put the Farney lads in front. There was little between the teams but Monaghan's support play in attack seemed to give them edge. But with five minutes to go Armagh manager Paul Doyle threw the kitchen sink at Monaghan and introduced three fresh-legged forwards, Ryan McKeown, Padraig Joyce and Conor Murphy.
And Judge levelled the score once more giving Armagh the belief to push for a winner and in injury-time Crossmaglen's O'Neill stepped up and struck a fantastic point from 30-metres. It was worthy of a winner and captain Caolan McConville sealed victory with a fisted point in the dying seconds.
And Doyle is delighted to have reached an Ulster Final, where the Minors take on Donegal. "It is amazing, absolutely amazing, what a brilliant feeling," he said.
Reaching an Ulster Final is an excellent achievement but there is room for improvement. If Armagh are going to play counter-attack football they need to be much quicker in thought and foot.
ARMAGH: Ryan Kearney, Fergus Quinn, Aidan Rushe, Cathal Donnelly, Cathal Boylan, Cathair McKinney, Conor McNicholl, Jarlath Og Burns, Shane Conlon, Jack Rafferty, Oisin O'Neill, Kyle Mallon, Ryan Hughes (0-3, 1 free), Conor Grimley (1-0) and Caolan McConville (0-1).
Subs: Conor Cullen (0-1) for Rafferty (black card) 31', Padraig Judge (0-1) for Grimley 44', Ryan McKeown for McNicholl 55' and Conor Murphy for Hughes 57'
MONAGHAN: Shane Garland, Stephen Mohan, Conor Duffy, Caolan McElwain, Mustafal Gamal, Barry Kerr, Shane Treanor, Michael Murnaghan, John Beatie, Francis Maguire, Aaron Jones, Michael Bannigan, David Garland, David McAllister (0-1) and Barry McGinn (0-6, 5 frees).
Subs: James Mealiff for Maguire 34', Dermott Gleeson (0-1) for Garland 43', Sean McMahon for Bannigan 60' and Francis Hughes for Beattie 60+2'.
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