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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 14 December, 2018
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Jamie Clarke lights up Croker as Armagh upset Kildare to book All-Ireland quarter-final

Kieran McGeeney’s men had three points to spare.

Armagh 1-17

Kildare 0-17

Kevin O’Brien reports from Croke Park

ARMAGH PRODUCED THEIR best display at Croke Park in a long, long time and booked a return to the All-Ireland quarter-final with a deserved three-point win over Kildare.

Andrew Murnin scores the opening goal Andrew Murnin scores the game's only goal. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

The Orchard County are back into the last eight of the All-Ireland series for the first time since 2014 where they’ll take on either Dublin or Tyrone on Saturday evening back at HQ.

This was by far Kieran McGeeney’s finest day in his two years in charge of his native county.

After failing to win promotion from Division 3 and falling to Down in the Ulster SFC quarter-final, Armagh’s resurgence this summer has been outstanding.

The Orchard produced a heroic team display to upset the beaten Leinster finalists, but it was a game that had the magic of Jamie Clarke sprinkled all over it. He scored 0-4 from play and was a constant menace as a scorer and provider, often operating as a lone Armagh attacker.

When Kildare hit six scores in a 12-minute spell midway through the second-half to move 0-15 to 1-11 in front, they looked primed to power home.

Clarke started to find pockets of space in the Kildare rearguard and took the game by the scruff of its neck. He kicked a score, gave the hand-pass for another and was fouled for a free that Niall Grimley converted.

Niall Grimley with Fergal Conway Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

By that stage it started to look like Armagh’s day. Kildare wing-back Keith Cribbin was black-carded in the 58th minute for hauling down Joe McElroy and then Kevin Feely missed a scoreable free from 25m.

Armagh sub Ethan Rafferty kicked a wonder score from almost 40m out and by the time Brendan Donaghy caught a stunning ball over the head of Kevin Feely in front of the goal late on, there was only going to be one winner.

Kildare were regular visitors to the last eight under McGeeney, reaching them on five occasions in his six years in charge, but they’ve made just one quarter-final since he was voted out by the clubs in 2013.

Armagh operated with Brendan Donaghy acting as a sweeper in front of his full-back line and wing forwards Stefan Campbell and Rory Grugan dropping deep.

A trio of Clarke, Gavin McParland and Andrew Murnin stayed up front in a straight line and moved from side to side to provide an outlet ball for a kick-pass from the Armagh defence.

Stephen Sheridan and Charlie Vernon with Kevin Feely Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

The Orchard started the game in a confident manner and had five points on the board inside the opening 13 minutes, with Grugan, Clarke, Andrew Murnin and McParland all on target from play.

When Aidan Forker floated over a delightful curler in the 18th minute, Armagh were 0-6 to 0-3 in front and in control. Kildare owned the next ten minutes, scoring four straight points to move into the lead, but it was short-lived.

Armagh’s 30th minute goal was created from nothing by Grugan. The wing-forward sold Keith Cribbin a stylish dummy and hand-passed into the path of Murnin, who managed to turn it into the net past Mark Donnellan despite a block from Mick O’Grady.

Armagh led by 1-8 to 0-8 at half-time, but apart from the creativity of Clarke, they found scores hard to come by for a spell after the interval.

The Crossmaglen forward hit a brace in the third quarter, but Kildare’s powerful running game yielded seven points in the same period including a peach off the left foot of Flynn.

Kildare led by 0-15 to 1-11 but this rip-roaring game swung back in Armagh’s favour. Clarke kicked one score and set up another as McGeeney’s men hit four of the next five scores to retake the lead.

Rafferty’s phenomenal point and a free from Grimley sealed the win.

Scorers for Armagh: Andrew Murnin 1-1, Jamie Clarke 0-4, Gavin McParland 0-3, Rory Grugan (0-1f) and Niall Grimley (0-2f) 0-2 each, Brendan Donaghy, Aidan Forker, Ethan Rafferty, Joe McElory and Stefan Campbell 0-1 each.

Scorers for Kildare: Kevin Feely 0-5 (0-5f), Paddy Brophy 0-3, Niall Kelly, Fergal Conway and Keith Cribbin 0-2, Daniel Flynn, Ben McCormack and Mark Donnellan (0-1f) 0-1 each.

Armagh

1. Blaine Hughes (Carrickcruppen)

5. Mark Shields (Whitecross)
4. Paul Hughes (Crossmaglen)
17. Aaron McKay (Dromain)

6. Brendan Donaghy (Clonmore Robert Emmets)

7. Aidan Forker (Maghery Sean MacDermotts)
2. James Morgan (Crossmaglen)
3. Charlie Vernon (Armagh Harps)

8. Stephen Sheridan (Forkhill)
9. Niall Grimley (Madden Raparees)

12. Rory Grugan (Ballymacnab)
13. Jamie Clarke (Crossmaglen)
24. Stefan Campbell (Clan na Gael)

14. Andrew Murnin (St Paul’s Lurgan)
15. Gavin McParland (Ballymacnab)

Subs

20. Joe McElroy (Armagh Harps) for McKay (37)
23. Ciaran O’Hanlon (Killeavy) for Forker (45)
10. Ethan Rafferty for Murnin (48)
26. Oisin O’Neill for Campbell (49)
11. Anthony Duffy for Grugan (63)

Kildare

1. Mark Donnelan (Maynooth)

2. Mark O’Grady (Celbridge)
5. Peter Kelly (Two Mile House)

3. David Hyland (Athy)

6. Johnny Byrne (Allenwood)
4. Ollie Lyons (Celbridge)
7. Keith Cribbin (Johnstownbridge)

8. Kevin Feely (Athy)
9. Tommy Moolick (Leixlip)

10. Fergal Conway (Celbridge)
11. Niall Kelly (Athy)
12. David Slattery (Confey)

14. Daniel Flynn (Johnstownbridge)

13. Paddy Brophy (Celbridge)
15. Cathal McNally (Johnstownbridge)

Subs

15. Cathal McNally (Johnstownbridge) for McCormack (45)
17. Fionn Dowling for Slattery (50)
22. Mark Hyland for Kelly (56)
24. Cian O’Donoghue for Paul Cribbin (black card, 59)
18. Eamonn Callaghan for Kelly (64)
9. Tommy Moolick for Flynn (68)

Referee: Derek O’Mahoney (Tipperary)

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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