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Dublin: 18 °C Saturday 1 August, 2015


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Welcome to sunny Salthill for today’s third round qualifier between Galway and Armagh.  The visiting team are just out checking the improved Pearse Stadium surface and they will be backed by a decent Armagh crowd.  Followers of the Orchard County have been arriving in the west since early yesterday morning.  Armagh have thumped Wicklow and Leitrim in the backdoor so far.  Galway have shaded tight battles against Tipperary and Waterford.  There is certainly plenty to play for on the banks of the Corrib.

The Saw Doctors epic tunes are blaring out around the Salthill venue.  Great summer vibe in the west.  Down the road the promenade is packed.  Can Galway cause an upset?  Will the Armagh machine be disturbed?  These questions will be answered over the next couple of hours.

No word of any changes so far in Pearse Stadium.

Galway: Manus Breathnach; Donal O’Neill, Finian Hanley, Keith Kelly; Johnny Duane, Gary O’Donnell, Gary Sice; Paul Conroy, Tom Flynn; John O’Brien, Sean Armstrong, Conor Doherty; Michael Martin, Michael Meehan, Danny Cummins.

Armagh: Philip McEvoy; Paul McKeown, Brendan Donaghy, James Morgan; Aaron Kernan, Ciaran McKeever, Mark Shields; James Lavery, Stephen Harold; Caolan Rafferty, Kevin Dyas, Ethan Rafferty; Jamie Clarke, Tony Kernan, Eugene McVerry.

Referee: Rory Hickey (Clare).

Back in 2001 Galway and Armagh met in an epic Croke Park third round tussle.  The maroons shaded that one by 0-13 to 0-12.  Paul Clancy’s sweet winner, crafted by Michael Donnellan, was the decisive blow.  Will it be similarly hard fought this evening?

Armagh are warm favourites with the turf accountants: 1/2 is what Paul Grimley’s charges can be backed at.  Galway are a 21/10 shot.  Those seeking value may be tempted by the 9/1 odds on a draw.  How many times have these Saturday evening games gone the distance???

Armagh are warming up already.  Fifty minutes to throw-in.  The temperature at pitch level is currently being measured at a staggering 30 degrees celsius.  Summertime and the living is easy, apparently.

The Fields of Athenry the latest musical offering.  It might be lonely in the west this evening if the Galway footballers are out of the Championship reckoning before the Races again.

Galway now out kicking around too as the throw-in edges closer.  Nice crowd filing through the turnstiles too.

The Galway panel have left the pitch for the cool of the dressing rooms.  Armagh still out going through their own warm up routine.

Michael Raftery, a capable footballer for Salthill-Knocknacarra, recalling one of Michael Donnellan’s great moments below.  A flash of genius from MD.

Armagh leave the pitch to a good roar.  They have travelled in significant numbers and crave a return to Croke Park.  Galway would like a trip to headquarters too.

One late change in the Galway team.  Sean Denvir is replacing Keith Kelly, who has limped out of the warm up.  Conor Doherty likely to go wing back with Denvir coming in at left half forward.  Johnny Duane, named at number 5, also expected to go into full back line.

Throw-in only seconds away now.

Managers Alan Mulholland and Paul Grimley shake hands, teams skip into positions.  Good roar from the stand, and referee Rory Hickey commences the battle.

It’s so hot out west the umpires have opted not to wear white coats.  The shirt and tie will do today.

Galway 0-1 Armagh 0-0: 4 mins – Lively start by the locals who lead courtesy of a fisted Johnny Duane point.  Worryingly, though, Galway have only scored once from four opportunities.  They will need to be far more clinical.

Galway 0-2 Armagh 0-0: 6 mins - Michael Meehan curls over a delightful free from an acute angle.  Passionate from Galway so far.

Galway 0-2 Armagh 0-0: 9 mins - This has been an encouraging opening for Galway.  Johnny Duane is acting effectively as a sweeper, Danny Cummins has buzzed about in attack and they have created chances.  Armagh have too, though, they just haven’t taken any yet.

Galway 0-3 Armagh 0-0: 10 mins - Promising stuff from Galway, Michael Meehan has lashed over a free.  Paul Conroy and Tom Flynn going well at centrefield.

Galway 0-3 Armagh 0-1: 13 mins – Tony Kernan has opened Armagh’s account with a free.

Galway 0-3 Armagh 0-2: 15 mins- Caolan Rafferty has struck a splendid point for Armagh.  Entertaining match.

Galway 0-3 Armagh 0-2: 17 mins - This game has moved along at a good clip.  Galway were smart at the start, but are being pegged back now a bit by Armagh.

Galway 0-4 Armagh 0-3: 20 mins - Sean Armstrong kicked a free for Galway and Ciaran McKeever replied with a crisp point from play for the visitors.  This has been an open contest in the west.

Galway 1-4 Armagh 0-3: 24 mins – Further encouragement for Galway as Danny Cummins has fisted a goal.  The 23 year old reacted promptly to palm home Paul Conroy’s free-kick.  Is the shock on?

Galway 1-5 Armagh 0-3: 26 mins – Michael Martin has added another fine Galway point.

Stefan Campbell replaces Caolan Rafferty for Armagh.

Galway 1-6 Armagh 0-3: 30 mins – Michael Martin has landed another cute score for Galway following more sterling work by Tom Flynn.  The Athenryman has been immense alongside Paul Conroy.

Kieran Toner replaces Stephen Harold for Armagh.

Galway 1-6 Armagh 0-4: 32 mins - Aaron Kernan clips a free for Armagh, who hadn’t scored for 11 minutes.

Galway 1-6 Armagh 0-5: 35 mins – Substitute Stefan Campbell kicks a point for Armagh as half-time looms.

Half time: Galway 1-6 Armagh 0-5 – Galway stumbled over the line beating Tipperary and Waterford, but they have been much improved here.  Organised defensively, capable at centrefield, and willing to graft in attack Galway have examined Armagh in the first half and they deservedly lead by four.

For those interested in the statistical side of chances and how they are converted Galway have been slick enough.  Galway have posted 1-6 from 14 opportunities, Armagh 0-5 from 12.

Scorers for Galway: Danny Cummins 1-0, Michael Martin 0-2, Michael Meehan 0-2 (2fs), Johnny Duane 0-1, Sean Armstrong 0-1 (f).

Scorers for Armagh: Caolan Rafferty 0-1, Ciaran McKeever 0-1, Stefan Campbell 0-1, Tony Kernan 0-1 (f), Aaron Kernan 0-1 (f).

It is boiling in Salthill, certainly still over 30 degrees celsius.  Game very much in the balance.  Perhaps the 9/1 on the draw was a clever shout.  Maybe!

Galway 1-6 Armagh 0-5: 38 mins - It has been fierce and physical in the early stages of the second half.  Galway continue to frustrate Armagh talisman Jamie Clarke.  Johnny Duane has been excellent as a defensive sweeper, while Donal O’Neill has kept tabs on Clarke, who still remains a potent threat.

Galway 1-6 Armagh 0-6: 40 mins - Stefan Campbell has rifled over a superb effort for Armagh to trim the deficit to a goal.

Galway 1-6 Armagh 0-6: 42 mins – Armagh on top here now.  Galway have yet to manufacture a chance in the third quarter, Armagh have taken one from four.

Temporary substitution for Galway, Colin Forde for Donal O’Neill.

Galway 1-6 Armagh 0-7: 45 mins - Ethan Rafferty with a point for Armagh.  It is literally in the melting pot now.

Galway supporters far from happy with some refereeing decisions by Rory Hickey.  Real Championship fare.

Galway 1-6 Armagh 0-7: 47 mins - Even though Galway lead this match is slipping away from them.  Armagh have dictated the pace in the second half.  Galway simply cannot get out of their own territory.  Dominant at midfield initially Galway are in trouble everywhere now. The maroons need a score, their defence needs a break too.

Galway 1-7 Armagh 0-7: 49 mins - Michael Martin has struck his third point of the evening from a seemingly impossible angle.  Galway need that.

Galway 1-7 Armagh 0-8: 50 mins – Turning into the Stefan Campbell show as the Armagh substitute claims his third point.  Impressive cameo.

Galway 1-8 Armagh 0-8: 52 mins - Michael Meehan taps over his third free for the Tribesmen.

Galway 1-9 Armagh 0-8: 54 mins – Michael Meehan lands his fourth free for Galway.  The shock is still on, Galway now beginning to get some joy again.

Aidan Forker for Eugene McVerry for Armagh.

Galway substitution, Shane Walsh replaces John O’Brien.

Galway 1-10 Armagh 0-8: 57 mins - Into the closing stages here in Salthill and an efficient Galway are five points ahead.  Alan Mulholland’s team have taken the majority of their chances in the second half.  Will it be enough?

5, 628 the official attendance at Pearse Stadium.

Galway 1-11 Armagh 0-8: 62 mins - Gary Sice has ventured forward to score a crucial point for Galway, who have introduced Fiontan O’Curraoin for Sean Armstrong.

Galway 1-11 Armagh 0-8: 63 mins – Galway are on course for an unexpected win in the west.  Armagh are rattled and Galway could claim a third Salthill win on the spin.

Galway substitution, Adrian Varley for Michael Meehan.

Galway 1-11 Armagh 0-9: 67 mins – Ciaran McKeever scores to leave five in it at Pearse Stadium.  Armagh require a goal.

Galway 1-11 Armagh 0-9: 68 mins – Armagh have been disappointing here.  They were on top at the start of the second half, but they weren’t clinical during that spell.  Galway weathered that particular storm.  Now they are seconds away from a shock victory.

Galway 1-11 Armagh 0-9: 70 mins – There will be three additional minutes at the end of this match.  Will Galway hold on?

Galway 1-11 Armagh 0-9: 70 mins – Galway playing keep ball now.  Armagh becoming agitated.  Substitute Michael Farragher in for the effective Michael Martin in the Galway attack.

Full-time Galway 1-11 Armagh 0-9.

Galway will head for Croke Park next Saturday evening for a clash with Cork.

Galway were primed, ready, and able for this Salthill scrap and they have shocked Armagh.  The Orchardmen were too classy for Wicklow and Leitrim, but they weren’t sufficiently clinical here.  Nine points from 25 opportunities tells the tale.  Talisman Jamie Clarke was held scoreless.  Alan Mulholland had his homework done and Galway bolted the defensive doors shut.

Scorers for Galway: Michael Meehan 0-4 (4fs), Michael Martin 0-3, Danny Cummins 1-0, Johnny Duane 0-1, Paul Conroy 0-1, Gary Sice 0-1, Sean Armstrong 0-1 (f).

Scorers for Armagh: Stefan Campbell 0-3, Ciaran McKeever 0-2, Caolan Rafferty 0-1, Ethan Rafferty 0-1, Tony Kernan 0-1 (f), Aaron Kernan 0-1 (f).

Thanks for joining us at Pearse Stadium.  The positive comments were very much appreciated.  Off to enjoy the warm weather.  Galway are Croke Park bound.

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