GAA Football

How the Armagh players rated against Down...

The Armagh players celebrate after substitute Mark Shields finds the back of the net during yesterday's victory over Down in Newry. Picture by Philip Walsh
Andy Watters

Star Man (Rian O’Neill – Armagh)

HE announced himself on the Ulster Championship stage with the first of his three first half points from play after 19 seconds and chipped in with Armagh’s insurance point deep in extra-time. Missed three chances too but was the focal point of the Armagh attack throughout the game. The Crossmaglen clubman finished with eight points and grabbed Armagh’s only mark of normal time. 9

Blaine Hughes: His first two kick-outs were won by Down, continued to kick it out short afterwards but with greater accuracy. Hesitation between him and his full-back allowed Havern to slip in for Down’s first half goal. Couldn’t do much about the second one. 6

Patrick Burns: Left the field with an injury after seven minutes. Not on long enough to be rated.

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Aaron McKay: Picked up Connaire Harrison and was out-muscled midway through the first half when Harrison turned him and landed a point. Tested under the high ball into the square. 6

Paul Hughes: Picked up Jerome Johnston and tracked him all over the field. Push in the Kilcoo man’s back set up an easy free for O’Hare. Made way for Joe McIlroy 10 minutes into the second half. 6

Ryan Kennedy: Up against fellow rookie Daniel McGuinness and he stuck to his task. Retreating when Down had the ball, offered a wide option when his side had it. Point in the second half and another in extra-time. 6

Brendan Donaghy: Provided the cover in front of the Armagh uprights, blocking the supply line to Harrison and bottling up Down runners through the middle. 7

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Aidan Forker: Came in for a some verbal and physical treatment but gave as good as he got. Lively early on and got forward but shot wide. Strong supporting role in the drama. 6

Charlie Vernon: Booked early on for a foul on O’Hare. Showed well for kick-outs but lost Poland in the first half and the Longstone midfield chipped over a point. Subbed but returned for extra-time. 6

Jarlath og Burns: On debut, he gained confidence and poise as the game wore on. With vast reserves of energy, he was outstanding in the second half and drove Armagh forward. Won ball at midfield, broke into Down territory, tracked runners… Luckless own goal late in the piece was a sour note to end a superb midfield performance from the Silverbridge clubman. 8

Aidan Nugent: Felled by Caolan Mooney as he broke through on goal late in the first half. Found his feet in the second half when he landed a point and worked his socks off. 7

Ethan Rafferty: Back from injury and looked rusty. He hit one wide in the first half and dropped a free short. Passing was also off target at times. Played the assist for James Morgan’s point but was subbed early in the second period. Remerged in extra-time. 6

Jemar Hall: Industrious as ever. His interception, deep in Armagh territory, resulted in a point for Clarke. Marked Conor Maginn out of it and was full of running until his black card late in the second half. 7

Rory Grugan: The Orchard skipper missed a simple first half free and followed it up with a wide from play. Struggled to get his passing game going but worked hard for the cause. 6

Rian O’Neill: See Star Man

Jamie Clarke: Electric when the ball came his way. Skinned Gerard Collins for an early score and added another just before the break. Wasn’t the same threat in the second half and missed a chance to win it in normal time. 7


James Morgan: Replaced Patrick Burns after seven minutes. Clipped over a point and kept tabs on Donal O’Hare. 6

Mark Shields: Raced through the Down defence to slam in Armagh’s first goal in the second half. 6

Joe McElroy: In for Paul Hughes early in the second half. Picked up Barry O’Hagan. 6

Stefan Campbell: One point in normal time and another in extra-time when Armagh really needed it. 6

Stephen Sheridan: On for Kennedy after 65 minutes. Added energy to Armagh’s midfield before he pulled up with a knee injury. 6

Greg McCabe: Replaced Hall late in normal time. Hard-working display in the drama of extra-time. 6

Ben Crealey: On for Sheridan midway through first period of injury-time. He made his presence felt in midfield. 7

Andrew Murnin: On for McCabe in the second period of extra-time. Levelled it with a classy finish and then a superb fisted goal that pinged off the post to win it. 8


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