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Armagh oust Meath at sodden Croke Park

Updated: Saturday, 02 Aug 2014 23:02 | Comments

Armagh deservedly booked their place in the All-Ireland quarter-final
Armagh deservedly booked their place in the All-Ireland quarter-final

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Armagh 0-18 Meath 0-13

A storming second-half performance at Croke Park eased Armagh beyond Meath and into the All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals for the first time since 2008.

Paul Grimley's side had a rocky patch at the end of the first half when they gave up a six-point lead.

But a strong performance in the last half-hour - where they outscored Meath heavily - secured their last-eight place.

They were good value for this win, with Stefan Campbell, Brian Mallon and Jamie Clarke all weighing in with crucial second-half points.

The sides were level with 40 minutes on the clock, but Armagh surged five clear with 10 minutes to go and maintained that advantage.

Both sides were rocked by the loss of their captains and defensive kingpins.

The foot injury that ruled out Armagh skipper Ciaran McKeever was well flagged beforehand.

The veteran half-back required crutches to make his way onto the field to even watch the warm up.

But Aaron Kernan was a strong replacement having been originally left out of the team.

Meath fans were most shocked to learn that their captain Kevin Reilly was also out.

The full-back cried off with a hushed-up injury, forcing a reshuffle of Meath's entire team.

Donal Keogan effectively played at full-back on danger man Clarke, who started at full-forward.

Shane O'Rourke was the man who came into Meath's team at midfield, partnering rookie and ex-minor star Adam Flanagan.

Andy Tormey and Mickey Newman shot points to put Meath two up in difficult conditions.

But eight points in a row from Armagh left the northerners in a strong position.

The Orchard forged 0-08 to 0-02 ahead and booted four other point attempts into Meath keeper Paddy O'Rourke's arms.

Meath's backs couldn't handle Aidan Forker, who shot three of the scores. Tony Kernan nailed two frees.

Meath struggled to adapt to the unseasonably wet conditions and went 25 minutes without scoring.

A 31st-minute Newman free finally broke Armagh's run of scores, but Meath responded with a magnificent point from Damien Carroll moments later.

Graham Reilly replaced Brian Meade and nailed another before David Bray converted a free. Suddenly, Meath trailed by just 0-08 to 0-06.

A converted injury-time 45-metre kick from Newman remarkably meant that there was just a point between the teams at half-time.

Armagh still led 0-08 to 0-07 but Meath had precious momentum after booting five scores in a row.

It counted for little though because while Meath did twice draw level, they lacked a vital killer instinct.

Armagh clearly had it because they finished strongly and Brian Mallon proved a great substitute with two important points.

They were five ahead with 60 minutes on the clock and cruised through the final stages of the encounter.

Armagh: P McEvoy; J Morgan, C Vernon, A Mallon; M Shields (0-01), B Donaghy, A Kernan (0-02); S Harold, A Findon; S Campbell (0-03), T Kernan (0-03, 2f), A Forker (0-03); K Dyas (0-01), J Clarke (0-01), K Carragher (0-01).

Subs: M Murray for Morgan, R Grugan for Carragher, B Mallon (0-02) for A Forker, S Forker (0-01) for T Kernan, F Moriarty for Donaghy.

Meath: P O'Rourke (0-02, 2f); M Burke, D Keogan, B Menton; D Caroll (0-01), P Harnan, D Tobin; A Flanagan, S O'Rourke; B Meade, B McMahon, A Tormey (0-01); S Bray, M Newman (0-04, 3f, 1 45), D Bray (0-02, 1f).

Subs: G Reilly (0-03) for Meade, E Harrington for Carroll, D McDonagh for S Bray, J Wallace for D Bray, P Gilsenan for McDonagh, B Meade for S O'Rourke.

Referee: R Hickey (Clare)

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