All-Ireland SFC Round 3B Qualifier
Armagh’s transformation continued at Semple Stadium, Thurles, as they brought Tipperary’s season to an end with a dramatic late winning goal to extract revenge for their one-point defeat to Tipp in April, which denied them promotion to Division 2.
It was a victory which continued good run in the qualifiers and their transformation from last year. Dumped out of Ulster in last year’s quarter-finals at the hands of Cavan, Armagh failed to negotiate the first round of the qualifiers – falling to Laois.
They’ve been transformed so far this year, however, pushing Down close in Ulster before racking up qualifier wins over Fermanagh and Westmeath, and now last year’s beaten All-Ireland SFC semi-finalists, Tipperary.
Jamie Clarke was Armagh’s hero to ease his side home, following up his late point which edged the Orchard county in front for the first time in the game, before finishing off counter-attack goal to seal it for Kieran McGeeney’s charges.
Tipp had put themselves in a good position at the break, leading by 0-10 to 0-8 after playing with the breeze.
Tipp All-Star Michael Quinlivan had crashed home a stunning goal in the 38th minute, taking a pass from Conor Sweeney before sending a rising drive past Blaine Hughes, but it would be another 20 minutes before they again they again raised a flag.
In that time, Armagh came on strong and finally hit the front when Clarke lofted over a 61st minute point.
A Conor Sweeney free levelled matters and Stefan Campbell restored Tipp’s lead, but McGeeney’s charges refused to lie down.
A swift breakaway saw Brendan Donaghy feed Gavin McParland, and McParland off-loaded to Clarke and he slotted home for the decisive goal.
It triggered a frantic finish from Tipp, as they desperately tried to find a response and Quinlivan had a couple of late efforts from close-in frees blocked away by the massed Armagh ranks.
While admitting that Armagh were “probably the better team”, Tipp manager Liam Kearns was unhappy with referee Paddy Neilan, saying: “…..we just weren’t happy with the decisions that didn’t go our way and decisions that went their way.
“He [Neilan] seemed to say we were diving all game. And I didn’t see that and he did obviously. Fair play to Armagh. I think they were probably the better team.
“We didn’t take our scores in the first half and that put us under pressure. And in the second half, I would have to they were on top and we were hanging on.
“I would say the better team won ultimately and I won’t say any more than that.
“In fairness, that was payback for Armagh. They were caught by us in the League. So they’ve done the same to us now. Fair play to Armagh and I wish them all the best.”
Scorers for Armagh: Niall Grimley 0-8 (5fs, 1 45), Jamie Clarke 1-1, Gavin McParland and Rory Grugan (1f) 0-2 each, Aidan Forker, Stephen Sheridan, Gregory McCabe and Stefan Campbell 0-1 each.
Scorers for Tipperary: Josh Keane 0-4 (2fs), Michael Quinlivan 1-0, Conor Sweeney 0-3 (3fs), Liam Casey, Kevin O’Halloran (1f), Jack Kennedy (2fs) 0-2 each, Brian Fox and Philip Austin 0-1 each.
ARMAGH: Blaine Hughes; Gregory McCabe, James Morgan, Charlie Vernon; Brendan Donaghy, Paul Hughes, Aidan Forker; Stephen Sheridan, Niall Grimley; Ciaran O’Hanlon, Mark Shields, Rory Grugan; Gavin McParland, Andrew Murnin, Jamie Clarke.
Subs: Joe McElroy for McCabe (inj., 28), Stefan Campbell for O’Hanlon (47), Ciaran McKeever for Clarke (70+3), Ethan Rafferty for Murnin (70+8).
TIPPERARY: Ciaran Kenrick; Alan Campbell, Paddy Codd, Emmet Moloney; Bill Maher, Robbie Kiely, Jimmy Feehan; Liam Casey, George Hannigan; Josh Keane, Kevin O’Halloran, Brian Fox; Conor Sweeney, Michael Quinlivan, Jack Kennedy.
Subs: Philip Austin for Hannigan (h.t.), G Hannigan for Kennedy (b/c 48), Liam Boland for Moloney (48), Diarmuid Foley for O’Halloran (70+2), Liam McGrath for Boland (64).