HomeFootballShea Loughran goal puts Armagh minors on course for victory over Longford...

Shea Loughran goal puts Armagh minors on course for victory over Longford and All-Ireland semi-final spot

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Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Football Championship quarter-final: Armagh 1-16 Longford 1-3

A CONTROLLED performance saw Armagh account for Leinster champions Longford with a degree of comfort on Saturday afternoon.

A goal on the cusp of half-time from captain Shea Loughran put Aidan O’Rourke’s charges into a 1-7 to 1-2 interval lead and well on their way to a first All-Ireland semi-final since 2009.

While they had a wasteful spell in front of the posts in the third quarter, Armagh’s turnovers in the middle third helped keep Longford scoreless for 34 minutes.

It was a performance built on support runs with star duo Diarmaid O’Rourke and Conall Wilson stretching Longford with their use of the ball.

When goalkeeper Michael Finnegan’s 29th minute kick-out was flicked on at midfield by Jack Loughran, Shea Loughran finished to the net at the end of an incisive move cut from the training ground.

Armagh had a bright start to the second half and never looked back to book their last four spot.

The Orchard County youngsters were within touching distance of Derry in the Ulster final and selector Stefan Forker pointed at how they bounced back to book their spot in the last four.

“It wasn’t a big deal resetting,” he said. “

“The boys knew you were in the All-Ireland quarter-final and if you have problems getting up for that then you’re in trouble.

“We probably got a few pats in the back that we didn’t want, as if to say we got close to Derry.”

Longford's Enda McGahern and Armagh's Aidan O'Rourke at the end of the Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Football Championship Quarter Final Between Longford and Armagh at the Kingspan Breffni Cavan on 06-08 2024.
Longford’s Enda McGahern and Armagh’s Aidan O’Rourke at the end of the Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Football Championship Quarter Final Between Longford and Armagh at the Kingspan Breffni Cavan on 06-08 2024.

O’Rourke opened the scoring with a spinner of the outside of his left peg before James Hagan replied for Longford.

The Orchard County then pushed clear, 0-4 to 0-1, with scores from the Wilson, Diarmaid O’Rourke and Ross Marsden.

Longford needed an Alan Mimnagh block to prevent a Marsden goal as Armagh began to take a hold.

There was a goal at the other end when Luke Donnelly lashed to the net after Armagh failed to deal with an angled ball from Mark Cooney to put Longford 1-2 to 0-4 ahead.

Armagh turned up the heat with scores from Fionn Toale and Shea Loughran before Loughran’s goal gave them a 1-7 to 1-2 interval lead.

It was the Ulster men who raced out of the blocks in the third quarter. Eoin Duffy was pulled back on his run goalwards with O’Rourke stroking over the free.

With Armagh pushed up on goalkeeper Ross, they won possession for Fionn Toale point as they turned the screw even tighter with a 1-9 to 1-2 lead.

While they were wasteful in front of goals, Armagh’s turnovers helped keep the Leinster champions scoreless for 34 minutes.

Points from Loughran, O’Rourke and substitute Adam Garvey applied the gloss on Armagh’s win.

Forker credited their squad with helping the county towards the business end of the championship, highlight the quality.

“I suppose we have a cohort of players that are good enough,” he said of this season’s progress.

“Armagh always produce good players as you can see the way the senior team is going, but maybe not all at the same time.

“We think that we have boys here who are not only talented, but you can see from the work rate there that they’re just hungry for work.

“They’re hungry for work and training. It’s alright coaching away there, but they’re taking it on board.”

Armagh: M Finnegan; T Fox, G O’Rourke; C Wilson (0-3); D O’Rourke (0-6, 0-3 frees); D O’Callaghan, S Woods, Fergus Toale; J Loughran, K McEntee (0-1); R Marsden (0-1), J McCooe, Fionn Toale (0-2); E Duffy, S Loughran (1-2) Subs: A Garvey (0-1) for Marsden (37), O Gribben for Duffy (49), D McGee for Fox (52), A McGrane for Fergus Toale (56), L Bellew for McCooe (58)

Yellow card: E Duffy (20)

Longford: J Ross; A Mimnagh, C McHugh, D Mulligan; C Doherty, M Cooney, B Blessington; S Fegan, P Farrell; O Kane, C O’Donnell, J Shannon; L Donnelly (1-1), J Marsh, J Hagan (0-2, 0-1 free) Subs: C Flynn for Blessington (28), M Glennon for Farrell (39), K O’Hara for Marsh (39), K Hudson for Kane (43), L Greene for Shannon (49)

Referee: P Clarke (Cavan)

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