Armagh let second chance against Laois pass them by
All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifier round 1A refixture: Laois 1-11 Armagh 1-10
ARMAGH departed Portlaoise on Saturday evening knowing they should be heading to Ennis next Saturday for round two of the Qualifiers. Instead, they we left rueing the raft of wides shot in the opening half.
In the opening 37 minutes of play, Armagh shot nine wides and dropped two or three efforts short in one of the most woeful displays of shooting witnessed in a Championship game in a long time. Many of these efforts were not just narrowly wide and some were closer to the corner flag than the uprights.
Laois had wasted no time in getting off the mark as Damien O’Connor and Brendan Quigley linked up to place Niall Donoher for the opening point after just 30 seconds. Laois extended their lead thanks to points from David Conway and Paul Cahillane (free), before Conor Meredith repeated his goal scoring exploits in the original game.
This time around, he gathered a long ball into the goalmouth and shook off the defender, making room for himself to shoot low across Patrick Morrison into the bottom left corner. This gave the home team a 1-5 to 0-1 lead at the interval and they were apparently cruising to victory.
That was all to change on the restart as Armagh emerged more energised and took the game to Laois. Half-time substitute Colm Watters fisted a point and was quickly followed by Rory Grugan and Stefan Campbell (free).
John O’Loughlin and Campbell (free) swapped points before Grugan struck for Armagh’s goal in the 45th minute. When Campbell closed the gap to a single point approaching the 70-minute mark, the announcement came there was to be three minutes of time added on.
Armagh went in search of the equaliser, but it was not to materialise and the final whistle was greeted by one of the loudest cheers heard in O’Moore Park in a long time.
Laois: G Brody; S Attride, M Timmons, G Hanrahan; D Strong (0-1), K Lillis, D O’Connor; B Quigley, J O’Loughlin (0-2); N Donoher (0-1), P Cahillane (0-1 free), C Begley; C Meredith (1-0), D Kingston (0-1 free), D Conway (0-2); Subs: A Farrell for O'Connor (BC, 20), K Meaney for Donoher (47), R Munnelly (0-2, 0-1 free) for Conway (54), G Dillon for Strong (57m), G Walsh (0-1 free) for Cahillane (63m), M Campion for Quigley (72m).
Armagh: P Morrison; S Heffron, B Donaghy (0-1), J McElroy; S O’Connell, A Mallon, S Sheridan; C Vernon, A Findon; T Kernan, R Grugan (1-2), A Forker; P Casey, S Campbell (0-4, 0-3 frees), M McKenna (0-1); Subs: N Grimley for Sheridan (6, inj), E McVerry for Casey (26), C Watters (0-2) for Connell (ht), M Shields for McKenna (62).
Referee: P O’Sullivan (Kerry).