Armagh denied at the death as disputed Tubridy goal salvages a draw for Clare
Allianz National Football League Division Two: Armagh 1-13 Clare 2-10
FOR the second year in-a-row there was drama at death between these two counties. In last summer’s Qualifier, Armagh produced a Lazarus-style comeback to win. Yesterday Clare did likewise and pulled a draw out of the jaws of defeat.
The Bannermen had led by two points at the end of a first half that had seen Jamie Clarke red-carded for a swing of his elbow but the visitors were four points behind with the game entering injury-time.
The fat lady was warming up but before she could manage a note, forward talisman David Tubridy pulled one back from a sideline ball on the right wing and, a minute later and from roughly the same spot, he equalized with another sideline that zeroed into the top corner of the Armagh goal.
For the second week in-a-row Armagh had failed to close out a game they should have won. Manager Kieran McGeeney was aggrieved with Tubridy’s equalizer and with Gavan Cooney’s first half goal too - Cooney had attempted to fist a point but the umpires ruled that James Morgan had deflected the ball into the Armagh net.
“The (second goal) came off Stephen (Sheridan’s) hand and came off the post and on our video it doesn’t look like it crossed the line but the Meath umpires think it did,” said McGeeney whose side meet Meath next weekend.
“What can you do? We watched the first goal again there and there’s no way James (Morgan) hit it. There’s no change in trajectory, no nothing…
“Those are the calls that go against you and they’re hard to take. It’s six points. Some days they go for you and some days they go against you. - we seem to be getting more against us.”
There were distressing scenes inside the first minute of the game when Clare’s Dermot Coughlan fell awkwardly and went to ground roaring in agony.
The 19-year-old was treated on the pitch for 10 minutes by medical personnel before being stretchered off with a dislocated ankle.
Clare manager Colm Collins was critical of the Pairc Esler surface – which was hard below the greasy covering of grass - afterwards.
“I thought the pitch was frozen,” he said.
“It was absolutely rock hard and I brought that to the referee’s (Cormac Reilly) attention before the game. He walked it and seemed to think it was grand – I felt like giving him a shovel and saying: ‘Will you dig a hole for me there?’ He wouldn’t have got past an inch.”
Cratloe clubman Collins said his side deserved a draw.
“With a couple of minutes to go I’d have taken a draw, no question, but I don’t think we should have left ourselves in that position,” he said.
“We didn’t play well in the second half but credit to Armagh, they played some really good stuff and kicked some great scores. You have to admire a lot of what they did but I think, on our first half display, we deserved a share of the points.”
Collin’s men fell behind after Niall Grimley opened the scoring and two points from Rian O’Neill, who was good and will get better, had Armagh 0-3 to 0-1 ahead.
Both sides had missed goal chances before Kieran Malone and Tubridy had Clare level and then Clarke – who had looked lively up front – was sent off for a swing of his elbow at marker Kevin Harnett, right in front of referee.
Armagh responded well with points from Jemar Hall and Grimley (a free) before Tubridy and Dale Masterson got Clare back on terms. Armagh kicked on again when their creative hub, Stefan Campbell and Rory Grugan, combined to send Greg McCabe, excellent at centre half-back, through for a goal. Connaire Mackin’s point extended Armagh’s lead to four points but Clare seized control from there to the break.
Tubridy converted two cheap frees before Cooney turned Mark Shields and bore down on the Armagh goals. He attempted to fist a point but his effort was ruled to have been deflected into the net by Morgan. After discussions and protests the umpire waved his green flag and Clare were ahead for the first time in the game.
Another Tubridy point just before the break left the Bannermen 1-8 to 1-6 in front after at the interval.
A man down and two points behind, Armagh were up against it in the second half but they began it with a quality score from Rian O’Neill and as the intensity levels rose rows erupted on the field and in the well-populated stand too as Armagh supporters vented their spleen.
They roared in celebration as fans’ favourite Charlie Vernon got on the end of a flowing move to equalize at 1-8 to 1-8. Another Grimley free regained the lead for Armagh and Clare, despite having an extra man in defence, were being overrun and outplayed.
Tubridy showed some composure to equalize and then Clare almost walked the ball into the net, but Blaine Hughes’ fingertips came to Armagh’s rescue and, as the Orchardmen scrambled ball away, Cathal O’Connor was sent off for kicking out at Aaron McKay. Grugan’s free put Armagh back ahead and points followed from McCabe, Joe McIlroy and Hall followed as Armagh extended their lead and looked to be cantering to victory.
Then Tubridy scored his first sideline to leave just a point in it and remind everyone that there was still fight in the Bannermen who forced another sideline and flooded men into Armagh’s square.
Tubridy struck the ball brilliantly and it curved from left to right, over everyone and the umpires ruled that it hit the stanchion and bounced back out into Hughes’ hands. Armagh saw it differently but the goal stood and another one got away.
Armagh: B Hughes; A McKay, J Morgan, M Shields; C Mackin (0-1), G McCabe (1-1), A Forker; S Sheridan, N Grimley (0-3, 0-2 frees); J Hall (0-2), R Grugan (0-1 free), C Vernon (0-1); S Campbell, R O’Neill (0-3, 0-1 mark), J Clarke
Subs: J McElroy (0-1) for Campbell (52), R McShane for Vernon (56), J Duffy for Shields (65), R McQuillan for Hall (68)
Yellow cards: McKay (29&70), Shields (36), Grugan (46), Hall (42), Morgan (48)
Red cards: Clarke (31), McKay (70)
Clare: P DeLoughrey; K Harnett, C Brennan, G Kelly (0-1); D Ryan, C O hAinfien, D Masterson (0-1); G Brennan, C O’Connor; C O’Dea, J Malone, D Coughlan; K Malone, K Sexton, D Tubridy (1-7, 1-1 sideline ball, 0-2 frees, 0-1 mark)
Subs: G Cooney (1-0) for Coughlan (12), E Collins for Masterson (46), D Bohannon for K Malone (58), G O’Brien for J Malone (66), C Murray for Sexton (68)
Yellow cards: Masterson (33), J Malone (42), Cooney (48), Kelly (55)
Red cards: O’Connor (54)
Referee: C Reilly (Meath)