Galway have the upper hand as Armagh crash out in cruellest way

Galway's Paul Conroy gets up above Andy Murnin of Armagh during the All-Ireland SFC quarter-final at Croke Park
Picture: Philip Walsh
James O'Sullivan at Croke Park

All-Ireland Senior Football Championship quarter-final: Armagh 3-18 Galway 2-21 AET (Galway win 4-1 on penalties)

AFTER 104 minutes of pulsating action, it all came down to penalties and it was Galway’s nerver in front of goal that saw them clinch a semi-final meeting with Derry.

Shane Walsh, Damien Comer and Robert Finnerty nailed their kicks and when Stefan Campbell blazed over and Conor Turbitt hit the post with his kick, it left Matthew Tierney with the chance to grab the glory with his winner.

From the minute Johnny Heaney palmed home Galway’s first goal early in the second half, Padraic Joyce’s charges were in command, but failed to seal the deal.

They were vulnerable under the high ball into the square and one of the most relieved players in Croke Park would’ve been Shane Walsh.

Leading 1-17 to 2-13, Walsh saw his needless, ambitious crossfield ball intercepted by Justin Kieran and seconds later Rian O’Neill showed nerves of steel to hammer over 55 metre free to bring the game to extra-time.

The drama didn’t end there. As the both teams raced off the pitch there was a brawl in the tunnel that saw Aidan Nugent and Sean Kelly red carded before extra-time.

Armagh will regret not having a greater cutting edge over the game and held a three-point lead at different stages in a first half they controlled.

One three occasions they opted to fist the ball over the bar, with Jarly Óg Burns having the chance to engineer a first half goal. Galway hit the last two scores of the first half to leave the game level at 0-7 each.

It was score for score early in the second half before Galway made the first momentum shift of the game. A Tierney shot came off the crossbar and when Armagh failed to clear, Tierney drew the last man before squaring the pass for Johnny Heaney to palm home.

Walsh added a point to put Galway 1-9 to 0-8 after 42 minutes and the for the next 10 minutes the game ebbed and flowed with Joyce’s side keeping four points ahead.

Armagh had Greg McCabe sent off when referee David Coldrick deemed his frontal charge into Matthew Clancy to be a red card offence.

The Ulster side did have their spell in the game, but after getting back into contention, points from Paul Conroy and Kieran Molloy opened a 1-16 to 0-13 lead with time almost up.

In stoppage time a ball into the Galway square came back off the bar and Aidan Nugent palmed to the back of the net.

Comer pointed but Armagh had the ball in the net seconds later when goalkeeper Gleeson coughed up possession and Conor Turbutt drilled to the net.

O’Neill’s monster free made it 1-17 to 2-14 to force extra time and still the sides couldn’t be separated and were level again at the break.

Armagh looked to have won the game when Rory Grugan took advantage of Gleeson’s hesitancy in goal to bundle the ball to the net for a 3-16 to 1-20 lead.

Man of the match Cillian McDaid hit back with a Galway goal and the game swung yet again.

Substitutes Eoin Woods and Jemar Hall notched points and looked to have won the game until McDaid fired over to take the game to penalties where Galway held their nerve in the late drama.

Galway: C Gleeson; L Silke, S Kelly, J Glynn; D McHugh, J Daly, K Molloy (0-1); P Conroy (0-1), C McDaid (1-2); P Kelly (0-1), M Tierney (0-2); J Heaney (1-0); R Finnerty (0-4), D Comer (0-3), S Walsh (0-6, 5f)

Subs: F Ó Laoí (0-1) for C McDaid (Blood sub 50, reversed 54), F Ó Laoí for M Tierney (Blood sub 62, reversed 69), R Ó Laoí for P Kelly (70), N Daly for R Finnerty (75), O Gallagher for S Walsh (79), B Mannion (started extra-time), S Walsh (started extra-time), O Gallagher for J Heaney (93), J Foley for L Silke (95), C Sweeney for J Heaney (101)

Penalties: S Walsh, D Comer, R Finnerty, M Tierney all scored

Yellow cards: D Comer (42), M Tierney (77), C McDaid (79)

Red card: S Kelly (80)

Armagh: E Rafferty; J Morgan, A Forker, C O’Neill (0-1); A McKay, G McCabe, J Óg Burns (0-1); S Sheridan, B Crealey; R Grugan (1-3, 2f), S Campbell (0-3), A Murnin; A Nugent (1-2, 1m), R O’Neill (0-4, 3f), J Duffy

Subs: Connaire Mackin for S Sheridan (44); C Turbitt (1-1) for A Murnin (44), Ciaran Mackin for A McKay (55), J Kieran (0-1) for J Duffy (69), E Woods (0-1) for J Óg Burns (69), J Óg Burns (started extra-time), N Rowland (started extra time), M Shields for A Forker (85), J Hall (0-1) for R Grugan (94) J Duffy for B Crealey (97)

Penalties: S Campbell scored, R O’Neill missed, C Turbitt missed

Yellow cards: R O’Neill (71), J Morgan (73)

Red cards: G McCabe (62), A Nugent (80)

Referee: D Coldrick (Meath)


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