HomeFootballArmagh and Kieran McGeeney get past All-Irealnd quarter-final hoodoo, seeing off 14-man...

Armagh and Kieran McGeeney get past All-Irealnd quarter-final hoodoo, seeing off 14-man Roscommon


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It was redemption, too, for Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney, who captained Armagh in that epic 2005 semi-final against Tyrone. He lost seven quarter-finals as a manager — four when he was in charge of Kildare — with the Armagh defeats in 2022 and 2023 coming via penalty shoot-outs.

So, this was a victory to be savoured by the Orchard County as they await the outcome of Sunday’s semi-final draw.

Goals in either half from Man of the Match Barry McCambridge and Conor Turbitt after a Roscommon kick-out was overturned were the key scores, though the game’s pivotal moment was probably the red card for Roscommon’s Ruaidhrí Fallon just before half-time after a second bookable offence.

For the Connacht side, it was another tale of Croke Park woe with their unenviable record of not winning a senior championship game of any hue at headquarters now extending into a 45th season.

Ironically, their last win in HQ came in the 1980 All-Ireland semi-final against Armagh, but they rarely looked capable of repeating that win on this occasion; having already lost three games in championship 2024, they could hardly complain.

Conor Turbitt opened the Armagh account after 11 seconds, but it wasn’t a sign of things to come as scores were at a premium in a cautious first quarter.

The pattern of play was established early; Roscommon held possession for long spells but made little headway against the packed Armagh defence, though Donie Smith squandered a couple of point-scoring chances.

Armagh looked dangerous when they turned over Roscommon and attacked at pace. Roscommon captain Brian Stack did well to block a goal-bound flick from Barry McCambridge early on. They too missed chances with Rian O’Neill driving a 45 and a long-range free wide while Turbitt squandered an easy chance.

Niall Grimley doubled their lead with a 16th-minute point before Roscommon finally opened their account with a Conor Cox point. By then, they had lost David Murray and Ultan Harvey to injuries – they were replaced by Dylan Ruane and Ciaran Lennon respectively.

Armagh’s ability to break at speed from defence once they turned over Roscommon in possession finally yielded the ultimate dividend after 20 minutes. Roscommon failed to track the run of the influential Barry McCambridge, Rory Grogan found him with a perfect weighted hand pass and the wing-back buried the ball in the Roscommon net.

Roscommon’s cause wasn’t helped by dropping shots short to Armagh goalkeeper Blaine Hughes – by the 25th minute, they had done it three times, and apart from missing scores, it handed possession to Armagh.

Barry McCambridge continued to cause havoc with his forward runs and he extended Armagh’s lead with a 29th-minute point.

In the closing minutes of the first half, Roscommon finally had some joy on the scoring front, with points from a Cox free after he was fouled and only their second from play via corner-back Niall Higgins.

In between, they were fortunate not to concede another goal – this time Robbie Dolan blocked a fisted effort from Paddy Burn after Oisín Conaty had squared the ball after collecting a shot from Turbitt, which rebounded off the upright.

But on the stroke of half-time, Roscommon’s problems were compounded when midfielder Ruaidhrí Fallon — who had been booked earlier for a foul on Tiernan Kelly — picked up a second booking for a foul on Rory Grugan and was sent off.

Grugan missed the subsequent free and Conor Cox converted one at the other end to cut the deficit to two points (1-3 to 0-4) at half-time. The Connacht side only converted four of their first-half scoring chances, whereas Armagh’s four scores were mined from just seven chances.

Conscious of having an extra man, Armagh replaced defender Peter McGrane with a forward, Stefan Campbell, at half-time, but Roscommon had a more productive start to the half with points from Eoin McCormack and Dylan Ruane to tie up the match.

But Barry McCambridge continued to have a significant influence, securing a mark and then converting it after 39 minutes. The scoring rate gradually increased, with Armagh hitting two points within a minute via Oisín Conaty and a fisted effort from Campbell after Roscommon failed to secure possession from their own restart.

A second Ruane point kept Roscommon in touch, but Campbell’s second point stretched Armagh’s lead out to four again.

Conor Cox’s third free kept Roscommon in touch, but the reprieve was temporary as Roscommon self-destructed. After Conaty kicked his second point, he turned over possession after a short Conor Carroll kick-out and linked up Conor Turbitt, who calmly slotted the ball to the Roscommon net to effectively the Armagh win.

Ultimately, Roscommon were guilty of too many unforced errors to challenge convincingly, the sending-off was a disaster and the failure of their two most prolific forwards in the championship, Diarmuid Murtagh and Daire Craig, to make an impact all contributed to their demise.

After all the drama of the previous two quarter-final losses, Armagh will be pleased to have won with the minimum of fuss.

Scorers – Armagh: B McCambridge 1-2; O Conaty 0-4; S Campbell 0-2; C Turbitt 1-2 (1f); N Grimley, A Forker 0-1 each. Roscommon: C Cox 0-5 (4f); D Ruane 0-2; N Higgins, E McCormack, A McDermott, B Stack, D Murtagh 0-1 each.

Armagh: B Hughes; P McGrane, P Burns, A McKay; T Kelly, B McCambridge, A Forker; R O’Neill, B Crealey; O Conaty, N Grimley, J McElroy; R Grugan, A Murnin, C Turbitt. Subs: S Campbell for McGrane (ht), O O’Neill for R O’Neill (50), R McQuillan for Forker BS 51-58 BS returned 58m A Nugent for Grugan (55), C Mackin for Crealey (64), G McCabe for Forker (69).

Roscommon: C Carroll; N Higgins; R Fallon, R Dolan; D Murray, B Stack, E McCormack; E Smith, S Cunnane; R Daly, D Murtagh, D Cregg; U Harney, D Smith. Subs: D Ruane for Murray (7), C Lennon for Harney (15), A McDermott for D Smith (55), C Heneghan for Daly (62).

Referee: Martin McNally (Monaghan)

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