SF Qualifier: slick Rossies progress at Armagh's expense

July 07, 2018

Armagh's Mark Shields fires in a goal despite the best efforts of the Roscommon defence ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Roscommon are through to the Super 8s courtesy of a superb 2-22 to 1-19 defeat of Armagh in Portlaoise.

This exciting, close-fought game looked destined for extra time when the Ulster men clawed back a five-point deficit to trail by just one heading into six minutes of injury time, but Kevin McStay's side finished powerfully, tagging on 1-3 in stoppage time to take their place in the same group as Dublin and Donegal for the new-look last-eight series.

Enda Smith hammered his second goal to the roof of the net in the fifth additional minute to finish the game as a contest. Smith finished the match as top scorer with 2-1 while the Murtagh brothers, Diarmuid and Ciarain notched six points apiece.

The Rossies looked home and hosed when Donie Smith's point had them five to the good after 45 minutes, 1-15 to 0-13, but Qualifier specialists Armagh never give up without a fight and they made a real battle of it until the final whistle.

Mark Shields replied to Smith's point with a stunning goal and, although the winners nailed three of the next four points via Diarmuid Murtagh (2) and Donie Smith, the Orchard were nonetheless back within the minimum by the 69th minute, Niall Grimley (3) and substitute Gavin McPartland on target to a Cathal Compton reply.

But the beaten Connacht finalists had the perfect riposte to that rally as late scores from Murtagh (free), Fintan Cregg and Conor Devaney sent them four clear before Enda Smith applied the icing to his side's Super 8 cake with his second three-pointer, the first of which was dispatched in the 28th minute at the end of a rapid counter offensive to give his side a narrow 1-11 to 0-12 interval advantage.

It remained nip and tuck throughout, with a definite turning point arriving nine minutes after the restart when Colm Lavin saved Rory Grugan's penalty.

Armagh had started brightest and led by 0-9 to 0-6 after 22 minutes, the dangerous Andrew Murnin hitting four first-half points from play. In sapping heat, however, Smith's first goal eventually swung the pendulum in Roscommon's favour and the winners had further points before the break from Diarmuid Murtagh, Enda Smith, and Ciarain Murtagh before Grugan's late free closed the first-half scoring.

The fifth team through to the Super 8s, Roscommon will open their bid for an All-Ireland semi-final place against Tyrone at Croke Park next Saturday at 5pm.

Roscommon - C Lavin; D Murray, N McInerney, S McDermott; J McManus, P Domican, C Devaney (0-1); E Smith (2-1), T O'Rourke; C Murtagh (0-6, 2f), C Cregg (0-3), N Kilroy; D Smith (0-3), N Daly, D Murtagh (0-6, 5f). Subs: G Patterson for P Domican, Fintan Cregg (0-1) for C Murtagh, C Compton (0-1) for D Smith, C Daly for S McDermott, Finbarr Cregg for N Kilroy, I Kilbride for N Daly.

Armagh - B Hughes; P Burns, B Donaghy, G McCabe; M Shields (1-0), R Owens, A Forker (0-1); C Vernon, C Mackin; R Grugan (0-5, 2f), J Hall (0-1), N Grimley (0-5, 3f, 1'45); R McShane (0-1), A Murnin (0-4), S Sheridan (0-1). Subs: J McElroy for G McCabe, R McQuillan for S Sheridan, N Rowland for B Donaghy, G McParland (0-1) for C Mackin, J Duffy for J Hall, K Dyas for A Murnin.

Referee - J McQuillan.

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