Mayo 2-13 Armagh 1-15
Mayo have progressed to next round of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship thanks to a 2-13 to 1-15 victory over Armagh at MacHale Park in Castlebar.
When the draw was made on Monday, this looked to be the tie of the round and it certainly proved to be as these two sides were nip and tuck for the majority of the match.
Kieran McGeeney’s men got off to the best possible start when they cancelled out the opening point from Mayo’s Conor Loftus by scoring 1-1 in the next two minutes.
Rory Grugan kicked a point from play to level the game and then some good work by Aiden Nugent and Stefan Campbell gave Rian O’Neill the opportunity to punch the ball into the net at the far post to give his side a three-point lead.
However, Mayo made it a level game almost immediately after conceding that goal as Andy Moran played a ball into Fionn McDonagh and the Westport man blasted home a goal despite the attention of two Armagh defenders.
Armagh responded well with two points from O’Neill and Grugan but like for most of this first half, each team responded to setbacks as Mayo levelled the match thanks to points from Loftus and McDonagh.
O’Neill was proving to be very dangerous for Armagh and a foul on the Crossmaglen man saw Jamie Clarke put his side back into the lead from a free.
Mayo equalised through Darren Coen before Campbell restored his side’s one-point advantage. That score would have annoyed Mayo manager James Horan as the point came about from some quick possession for Armagh after Aidan O’Shea was dispossessed at the other end of the field when he was in an excellent position to notch a point.
Mayo were guilty of a number of wides and Horan decided to change things up when he sent on Kevin McLoughlin for Andy Moran. Moments later, Lee Keegan left the fray with a worrying looking ankle injury and he was replaced by Stephen Coen.
Mayo finished the half the stronger and they went into the interval with a one-point lead thanks to points from Jason Doherty and Paddy Durcan.
Jamie Clarke got the first point of the second half to level the game from a free before he put Armagh into the lead moments later with his first point from play with a lovely left-footed strike from a tight angle.
Some quick thinking saw the ball played to Kevin McLoughlin and he put the ball over the bar to level the game once again.
Clarke continued his impressive start to the second half when he kicked over another point from play to put his side into the lead but it was shortlived as Darren Coen notched a point for the home side to level matters for the eighth time.
Darren Coen and Niall Grimley exchanged points for the respective sides with over 10 minutes of the second half played and there was soon a huge cheer from the Castlebar crowd as Cillian O’Connor made his introduction.
A point from Donie Vaughan put Mayo into the lead but things got a whole lot better soon after when McLoughlin notched a goal for the green and red.
The Knockmore club man picked up the ball and space seemed to open up in front of him as he drove towards the Armagh goal and he produced a composed finish to put the ball beyond Blaine Hughes to register Mayo’s second goal of the game.
Darren Coen then put his side further ahead with his fourth point of the evening which opened up a five-point lead.
Armagh’s chances almost got a huge shot in the arm when the dangerous Clarke saw his effort on goal come back off the post as a massive sigh of relief rang around MacHale Park.
However, that near miss only drove Armagh on as they reeled off four points in a row to put just one-point between the teams with 63 minutes on the clock.
Armagh’s Mark Shields foolishly dragged a Mayo player to the ground off the ball which allowed Cillian O’Connor to notch his first score of the year for Mayo to open up a two-point lead with three minutes remaining.
Going into four minutes of added time, another free from O’Connor put three points between the sides.
O’Neill and Campbell both registered points in added time to leave just one point between the teams and from Clarke’s kick out, O’Shea conceded a free which gave Armagh a chance to level the game and bring it to extra time.
The ball was played short and Grimley’s effort went to the right of the posts as Mayo’s journey in this year’s Championship goes on for another week.
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