Armagh 3-08 Longford 2-09

Updated: Saturday, 02 Mar 2013 23:43 | Comments

Armagh's Aaron Kernan attempts to evade persistent Longford star Aidan Rowan
Armagh's Aaron Kernan attempts to evade persistent Longford star Aidan Rowan

Armagh gained their first win of the season with a 3-08 to 2-09 success over Longford at the Atheltic Grounds.

Jamie Clarke and Stefan Forker hit early Orchard goals, before Francis McGee netted for Longford.

Armagh led by 2-05 to 1-05 at half-time, and Tony Kernan’s goal was cancelled out by McGee’s second.

But the home side held on for a first win under new manager Paul Grimley.

Clarke tormented the Longford defence right from the outset, setting up a goal chance for Forker, before blasting home a brilliant goal himself in the sixth minute.

The Crossmaglen star darted past Peter Foy and Barry Gilleran to give keeper Damien Sheridan no chance with a clinical finish.

Three minutes later it was Clarke the creator once again, a perfectly timed fist pass sending Forker in with the easiest of tasks in picking his spot to beat Sheridan again.

But Longford recovered from that double setback to hit a goal of their own a minute later.

Paul Barden’s long delivery was collected by Francis McGee, who beat his marker with an instinctive turn before finishing low to the net.

Forker scored Armagh’s first point of the game in the 17th minute, and Clarke followed up with another couple.

Sean McCormack kept the Leinster men in touch with three scores from frees, and a wonderful effort from play, and at the interval, it was Armagh who led by 2-05 to 1-05.

David Barden almost made an inspired arrival in the action, but he was hauled down as he went for goal, and McCormack tapped over the resultant free, before Aaron Kernan restored the three points advantage from a free.

Clarke continued to cause havoc every time he got on the ball, but a series of Orchard attacks came to nothing.

Both sides went around 20 minutes without raising a flag, and it was Aaron Kernan who got Armagh up and running again with his second converted free of the second half.

That was quickly followed by a third Orchard goal in the 64th minute, and once again the mercurial Clarke was involved again.

His pass sent Brian Mallon in on goal, and when his shot was blocked down by Barry Gilleran, substitute Kernan followed up to slide the ball to the net.

Six points behind, Longford picked themselves up off the ground again, and set up a gripping finish with a 1-02 salvo.

McCormack tapped over two frees, and McGee’s predatory instincts saw him scramble a second goal to leave just point between the sides.

But crucially, it was Armagh who claimed the next score, Kernan drilling a ’45 between the posts.

Armagh scorers: J Clarke 1-02, S Forker 1-02 (1f), T Kernan 1-01 (0-1 ’45), A Kernan 0-02 (2f), K Dyas 0-01

Longford scorers: F McGee 2-02, S McCormack 0-07 (6f).

Armagh: P McEvoy, G McCooey, J Donnelly, S Finnegan, A Kernan, B Donaghy, C McKeever, J Lavery, S Harold, K Dyas, S Campbell, C Rafferty, J Clarke, J Hanratty, S Forker.

Subs: J Morgan for Finnegan (26), D McKenna for McCooey (45), B Mallon for Hanratty (50), T Kernan for Campbell (50)

Longford: D Sheridan, D Brady, B Gilleran, P Foy, M Quinn, K Diffley, S Mulligan, J Keegan, M Brady, B McElvanney, D McElligott, A Rowen, F McGee, P Barden, S McCormack.

Subs: D Barden for P Barden (h-t), C Smith for Diffley (h-t), N Mulligan for Keegan (57)

Referee: M Duffy (Sligo).

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