Meath 2-10 Armagh 0-19

Updated: Saturday, 01 Mar 2014 21:23 | Comments

Armagh's Jamie Clarke escapes the clutches of Meath's Andrew Tormey and Donal Keoghan
Armagh's Jamie Clarke escapes the clutches of Meath's Andrew Tormey and Donal Keoghan

Jamie Clarke’s 0-11 haul helped Armagh to record their first win in Allianz FL Division 2 with a 0-19 to 2-10 win over Meath in Navan.

The Royals led 2-04 to 0-05 in the 26th minute thanks to goals from Michael Newman and Brian McMahon. However, with Clarke pointing four times, the gap was down to 2-05 to 0-10 by half-time.

And although Meath had the early momentum in the second half, Clarke's place-ball accuracy ultimately steered the visitors over the line.

Meath, who were looking to bounce back from a disappointing defeat to Monaghan, opened the scoring two minutes in when Brian McMahon kicked over after Eamon Wallace had been denied a goal by Orchard stopper Philip McEvoy.

Full-forward Stefan Campbell split the posts on the run for Armagh six minutes later, but after Graham Reilly and Armagh sharpshooter Clarke (free) swapped scores, Meath opened up a two-point cushion courtesy of points from Michael Newman and Reilly.

Disaster struck Paul Grimley's side on 16 minutes when Newman's point attempt was spilt into the back of the net by McEvoy, but Armagh responded impressively to this setback with three points on the bounce from Campbell ('45'), Stephen Harold and Caolan Rafferty.

With nine minutes remaining in the first half, Stephen Bray's low shot from a left hand angle was smothered by McEvoy, only for the industrious McMahon to fist into an empty goal. The Royals looked in rude health at this stage.

Yet, despite losing midfielder Aaron Findon to a 29th minute black card, three terrific points from the always dangerous Clarke - who was causing no end of problems for Meath's Donal Keoghan - and a second for the imposing Harold ensured that the hosts' lead was significantly altered in time for the interval.

With the wind at their backs on the restart, Armagh should have seized the early initiative but instead it was Meath who emerged firing on all cylinders, as tremendous points from the dynamic attacking trio of Newman, McMahon and Wallace bolstered the Royals' lead.

The lightning pace of Wallace was creating several openings through the heart of the Armagh defence, and he found the range once again from the outside of the boot on 49 minutes.

They were struggling to pull away from the 2002 All-Ireland champions however, and a quartet of successful frees from ace marksman Clarke kept them in the frame.

The tireless Rafferty subsequently levelled matters 11 minutes from time, and further points by substitute Eugene McVerry and Clarke meant that the game was drifting away from Meath.

Meath substitute Damien Carroll joined Findon in receiving a black card for a foul on McVerry six minutes from the end and although David Bray narrowed the gap from a placed ball, another brace by the magnificent Clarke sealed a badly-needed first triumph for Grimley's charges.

Meath: Paddy O'Rourke; Donal Keoghan, Kevin Reilly, Mickey Burke; Padraig Harnan, Bryan Menton, Eoghan Harrington; Andrew Tormey, Shane O'Rourke (0-01); Brian McMahon (1-02), David Bray (0-01, 0-01f), Graham Reilly (0-02); Eamon Wallace (0-02), Stephen Bray, Michael Newman (1-02, 0-01f).
Substitutes: Donal McDonagh for Bray (52 mins), Damien Carroll for Reilly (52), Seamus Kenny for Tormey (59), Donnacha Tobin for Carroll (64, black card).

Armagh: Philip McEvoy; Paul Hughes, Andy Mallon, Michael Murray; Mark Shields, Charlie Vernon, Feidhlim O'Neill; Aaron Findon, Stephen Harold (0-02); Tony Kernan, Kevin Dyas, Caolan Rafferty (0-02); Jamie Clarke (0-11, 0-07f), Stefan Campbell (0-02, 0-01 '45'), Oisín McKeever (0-01).
Substitutes: Stefan Forker for Findon (30 mins, black card), Eugene McVerry (0-01) for Dyas (36), Brian Mallon for Kernan (40).
Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois)

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