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Welcome to The42’s live coverage of the latest chapter of Mayo’s Long and Winding Road to Croke Park, featuring Armagh. 

Mayo’s qualifier sojourns have been fairly epic in the last few years, and last year’s was shaping up to be similar until they were abruptly stopped in their tracks amid the Newbridge or Nowhere mayhem. 

This time around, they face a nerve-jangling test against high-scoring Armagh – a challenge exacerbated by their mounting injury list. Diarmuid O’Connor and Matthew Ruane are out, although Cillian O’Connor has been named among the substitutes. 

Armagh are in flying form, and have racked up 5-65 in the Championship thus far – although they’ve twice gone to extra time and also played a replay. 

But if any Mayo fans are looking to steady their nerves ahead of throw-in – this is their first Championship meeting since 1950. What happened that year? 

Well, Mayo only went on to win the All-Ireland…

Get in touch below the line, or else email gavincooney@the42.ie or tweet @gcooney93. 

The action in Castlebar begins at 7pm. 

Elsewhere this evening, Kildare are in Newbridge and look to be heading nowhere. Mick O’Grady has been sent off as they trail Tyrone by five points with 20 minutes to go in their qualifier clash. 

You can follow that game live here. 

Here’s the Mayo team named to start tonight’s game.

Donie Vaughan returns to bolster the midfield, while there is a full championship debut for Mikey Murray. 

 1. David Clarke

2. Chris Barrett 
3. Brendan Harrison 
4. Keith Higgins 

5. Lee Keegan 
6. Michael Plunkett 
7. Patrick Durcan 

8. Donal Vaughan 
9. Aidan O’Shea

10. Fionn McDonagh 
11. Conor Loftus 
12. Mikey Murray 

13. Kevin McLoughlin
14. Andy Moran 
15. Fergal Boland 

And the Armagh line-up: 

1. Blaine Hughes

2. Paddy Burns
3. Aaron McKay
4. Paul Hughes

5. Aidan Forker
6. Brendan Donaghy
7. Mark Shields

8. Jarlath Óg Burns
9. Niall Grimley

10. Jemar Hall
11. Aidan Nugent
12. Stefan Campbell

13. Jamie Clarke
14. Rian O’Neill
15. Rory Grugan 

Further to our talk about omens earlier…

Tyrone have evaded Mayo’s fate, and emerged unscathed from Newbridge, beating Kildare 2-22 to 1-15. 

Elsewhere, Westmeath and Clare are level at half-time of their qualifer – 0-08 apiece. 

Laois v Offaly throws in at the same time as the game in Mayo – 7pm. 

Ahead of this game, Sky Sports were pitchside and remarked on the length of the grass at McHale Park – which Senan Connell found odd given a slower-paced game may not suit Mayo. 

While their home form is oddly poor – particularly in the Connacht Championship – they have a perfect record in front of their own supporters in the back door – its played five, won five in Castlebar. 

“He was pushing so hard you had to play him”, says James Horan of Mikey Murray, who replaces the injured Diarmuid O’Connor. 

Peter Canavan expecting Murray will be tasked with picking up Jarlath Óg Burns in midfield, and says that Armagh may cause havoc with high, direct ball into the Mayo full-back line. 

“He has to channel his inner Michael Murphy” says Kieran Donaghy of Aidan O’Shea. We all need to do that. 

A host of late changes for Mayo: 

Colm Boyle replaces Michael Punkett in defence, Ciarán Treacy is in for Donie Vaughan at midfield, Jason Doherty replaces Kevin McLoughlin and Darren Coen drops in for Fergal Boland. 

Cillian O’Connor remains on the bench. 

Armagh are picked as selected. 

A minute’s silence is impeccably observed for the late Pádraig Carney, aka the Flying Doctor, who was part of Mayo’s All-Ireland-winning teams of 1950 and 1951. 

Og Burns catches the throw-in, and falls awkwardly and is now rolling around in pain after all of 15 seconds. Maurice Deegan is in charge of this, by the way. 

Og Burns is up after lengthy treatment and looks okay to continue. As play continues, Chris Barrett is penalised for a foul, and Rian O’Neill skews the free-kick horribly wide. 

Mayo 0-01 Armagh 0-00

Evergreen update: Andy Moran latches onto a long ball and wins a free. It’s pointed by Conor Loftus, and Mayo hit the front. 

Mayo 0-01 Armagh 0-01 

Armagh off the mark through a Grugan point from play. Terrific, patient play by Armagh involving Og Burns and O’Neill. 

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GOAL! Mayo 0-01 Armagh 1-01

Rian O’Neill finishes from close range, picked out by an Aidan Nugent fist-pass. It all began with a gorgeous kick pass by Grugan. 

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(Another) GOAL! Mayo 1-01 Armagh 1-01

Fionn McDonagh responds immediately for Mayo! Andy Moran took the ball to the near the end line, turned back and picked out McDonagh by the penalty spot and he blasted a shot through Hughes’ legs! 

Mayo 1-01 Armagh 1-02

Armagh reply quickly with a pointed free from Rian O’Neill. 

Mayo 1-01 Armagh 1-03 

Gorgeous point from the left foot of Rory Grugan, who looped in from the right touchline. Armagh are a joy to watch – and Grugan is in the, eh, groove. #

Paddy Durcan replies with Mayo’s first wide. 

Mayo 1-02 Armagh 1-03 

Stefan Campbell drove at the Mayo defence but was superbly turned over by Aidan O’Shea, and it winds up with a Mayo free behind the 45…which is then brought in closer as Niall Grimley wouldn’t take the requiste steps back. 

A silly error, as Loftus knocks the ball over. 

Something significant that we haven’t had time to mention yet – there is (obviously) a strong breeze at McHale Park, and it is at Mayo’s backs. Makes Armagh’s start all the more impressive. 

Mayo 1-03 Armagh 1-03

Blimey, what a point from play by Fionn McDonagh on his left foot. Level game again. 

Mayo 1-03 Armagh 1-04 

Jamie Clarke puts Armagh back ahead with a free won by Rian O’Neill. 

O’Neill is tearing Mayo asunder – so now he is being picked up by Lee Keegan. 

Big roar from the crowd as Colm Boyle does well to read a Nugent foot-pass and intercept before it makes it to Clarke. Mayo break, but Armagh do well to block McDonagh from shooting. Now Armagh swarm forward, and Jemar Hall breaks a couple of tackles before skewing a shot wide. 

This game is fantastic. 

Mayo 1-04 Armagh 1-04 

Cracking point by Darren Coen from the right touchline, picked out by a marauding Keith Higgins run. 

Jamie Clarke drifts a shot wide – a let-off for Mayo after they sloppily lost the ball on the wrong side of their own ’45.

Mayo 1-04 1-05 Armagh

For the first time today, Armagh drop 14 men behind the ball and ask Mayo to find a gap. Aidan O’Shea drives through one and beats two men, but takes too much out of the ball and is turned over. Armagh countered quickly and Campbell knocked the ball over the bar. 

Minutes later, Keegan replicates O’Shea’s error. He found space, demurred from shooting to carry a little further…and coughs up the ball. 

Armagh’s swarm defence is terrific. Fionn McDonagh had found some space, but they soon dealt with him, then Ciaran Treacy, and finally Andy Moran. 

McDonagh hooks a speculative left-footed effort goalward, but it goes wide. Armagh make a hames of the kick-out, straight to Keegan, and it ends with Colm Boyle slicing an effort wide. Mayo beginning to rack up the wides…

…other Mayo vetities. Cracking tackle by Barrett to dispossess Clarke. Mayo break with Darren Coen, who danced along the endline and cut the ball back for Loftus, but Hughes intercepts. 

Mayo come again…and kick yet another wide. 

Hmmm. Andy Moran has been subbed before the break, and Kevin McLoughlin replaces him. There was no obvious sign of an injury, and Moran looks a bit bemused as he goes off…

More bad news for Mayo. Lee Keegan is being helped off the field, having hurt his ankle in an off-ball clash with O’Neill. Huge loss – Stephen Coen is on. 

Mayo 1-05 1-05 Armagh 

Mayo are finally level – Jason Doherty from play. He collided and tangled with Burns after he scored, and both have been booked by Deegan. 

Mayo 1-06 1-05 Armagh

Mayo take the lead! Paddy Durcan weaves in from the left wing and side foots the ball over the bar. 

Four minutes added on, by the way. 

Mayo beginning to dominate on the Armagh kick-out. The latest attack ends with Kevin McLoughlin on the ground having taken a bang to the face. 

Rian O’Neill drills a free-kick wide, Armagh’s fifth. 

Mikey Murray wins a free-kick for Mayo in what is surely the last act of this first-half. Loftus screws it wide – a poor miss, given it was on his favoured right foot. 

HT: Mayo 1-06 1-05 Armagh 

Armagh started superbly, but slowly Mayo have come to dominate midfield. While the Armagh forward line has been starved in the latter part of that half, Mayo’s have been profligate. They subbed one of their Footballers of the Year and then lost another to injury minutes later, and Armagh will have the wind advantage in the second-half. 

This is anyone’s game. 

Elsewhere - Clare are one game from the Super 8s thanks to a one-point, 1-13 to 0-15 win against Westmeath. 

Laois lead Offaly by a single point at half-time in their qualifier clash. 

Earlier, Tyrone hammered a lacklustre Kildare in Newbridge. 

Sky reporting that Kieran McGeeney and the Armagh management were surprised to see Horan hook Andy Moran before half-time. 

They weren’t alone…

No changes for either side at the break. 

Mikey Murray makes way for Mayo, and Donie Vaughan is brought on. He was on the terraces for last week’s win against Down. 

Mayo 1-06 1-06 Armagh

Brendan Harrision is penalised for a push on Jamie Clarke, who lifts a free-kick from the ground and over the bar for Armagh. Level again! 

Mayo 1-06 1-07 Armagh 

Gorgeous left-footed point from an ever-narrowing angle from Clarke. Armagh win the ball from Clarke’s kick-out – Grimley soaring above O’Shea – who gave the ball to Hall, who dinked a foot-pass into Clarke’s chest. Lovely score. 

Encouraged by the wind behind him, Campbell tries a shot from distance but it goes wide. 

Mayo 1-07 1-07 Armagh

Mayo level – Darren Coen to McLoughlin, who kicks a left-footed score. 

After consultation with his umpires, referee Deegan takes the names of McLoughlin and Paddy Burns.

Rain is now falling on MacHale Park – I think this is known as a Mayo Heatwave. 

Mayo 1-07 1-08 Armagh 

Clarke is given far too much space by Barrett, and he swivels and knocks over another left-footed point. His third of the second half. 

Mayo 1-08 1-08 Armagh

..and Darren Coen equalises immediately for Mayo! 

Mayo 1-09 Armagh 1-08 

Another beauty from Darren Coen! A curling right-footed effort from the left side of the field. 

He and Stephen are cousins, rather than brothers – although many of Mayo’s games in recent years could have been scripted by the Coen Brothers. 

Mayo 1-09 1-09 Armagh

Blimey – Niall Grimley arrows a long-distance point over the bar. We are level again.

Huge roars around the ground – Cillian O’Connor is introduced for Mayo, replacing Loftus. His first competitive outing for Mayo in a year. 

Mayo 1-10 1-09 Armagh

Mayo are taking virtually all of their kick-outs short, and they are consequently building really well from the back. The latest ends in a point from play for Donie Vaughan. 

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GOAL! 

Huge moment for Mayo! Kevin McLoughlin skates by Brendan Donaghy, bears down on goal and uses his right foot to loop the ball over Hughes! 

That goal by McLoughlin means the gap on the scoreboard is four points – it hasn’t been more than one since the tenth minute. 

Mayo suffer yet another injury – Fergal Boland is on for Jason Doherty, who limps off. 

Armagh, meanwhile,bring on sub keeper Ethan Rafferty outfield. 

Mayo 2-11 1-09 Armagh

Another sparkling point from Darren Coen, again wide on the left. 

Off the post! 

A high, larruped ball by Armagh lands in Clarke’s chest on the edge of the square, he spins and shoots low, but his shot is superbly touched onto the post by David Clarke. 

A huge moment! 

It’s fair to say that David Clarke has no interest in giving Rob Hennelly another sight of his jersey – that was a fabulous save. 

Ooooh dear. Ethan Rafferty skews a shot horribly high and wide – that’s a tenth wide for Armagh. 

 

Mayo 2-11 1-10 Armagh

Another great point from Jamie Clarke, who cuts in from the right to float a shot over the bar. That’s his fifth point of the second half, and he is leading a one-man charge against Mayo. 

Mayo 2-11 Armagh 1-11

Big chance for Armagh! 

Mayo fall asleep – O’Shea gives a free-kick away, and Armagh drive the ball long into Grugan in oceans of space in the Armagh forward line. Clarke comes flying out of his goal, Grugan goes around him…and the ball goes over the bar! Incredibly lax from Mayo. 

Mayo 2-11 1-12 Armagh

And Campbell kicks a long-range point to cut the gap to two! Mayo have completely fallen asleep. 

Mayo 2-11 1-13 Armagh

One. point. game! 

Campbell stands up Vaughan, goes past him and kicks his point. 

Mayo now can’t get on the ball whatsoever, having looked so comfortable. A bewildering collapse. 

Darren Coen picks up a yellow. 

Mayo without a score in almost 11 minutes. Boy, do they need one soon. 

Mayo 2-12 1-13 Armagh

Utter madness from Armagh. Cillian O”Connor was ready to take a long-range free short – it was too far out – and then Mark Shields inexplicably hauls down McLoughlin in the ‘D’, for which Deegan books him and gives O’Connor a free that he can’t miss. 

Good grief Shields – eejitry. 

Armagh journey up the field straight away and win a free off Brendan Harrison – won by Jamie Clarke. What a second-half performance he has put in. Rian O’Neill, however, sends his free wide. Let-off for Mayo. 

Mayo 2-13 1-13 Armagh

Superb direct running by McLoughlin, and he wins another free off Shields. He’s had another mammoth performance for Mayo today, having replaced Andy Moran before the break.

Cillian O’Connor swings it over the bar. 

There are four additional minutes – Mayo are nearly there!

One hugely positive element of Mayo’s second half – they’ve yet to kick a wide since we’ve restarted. 

Ben Crealy is on for Jarlath Og Burns for Armagh; Evan Regan comes on for Ciaran Treacy on the other side. 

Mayo 2-13 1-14 Armagh

Armagh win a free, with 90 seconds left. Does O’Neill kick his point? He does. 

Buckle up! 

Mayo 2-13 1-15 Armagh

One point game again! 

Mayo dawdle on the ball, lose it sloppilty, and Campbell kicks it over! 

Armagh have a free about 55 metres from the Mayo goal! We are over the allotted 4 minutes of additional time….this could be the final act! 

Armagh go short, which allows Grimley gain a few yards, he shoots…..and misses! 

FULL-TIME: Mayo survive! 

For Mayo fans, football is something to be endured rather than enjoyed. They have come through by the skin of their teeth this evening, letting Armagh back into the game on a couple of occasions in the second half. 

In spite of superhuman performances from Jamie Clarke and Stefan Campbell – Mayo live to fight in the fourth round of the qualifiers, and are one game from the Super 8s. 

They go forth with injury concerns over Lee Keegan and Jason Doherty, but Cillian O’Connor returned to kick a couple of points and tjhere were big performances from Darren Coen, Keith Higgins, Fionn McDonagh, David Clarke and Kevin McLoughlin. 

Armagh’s worthy championship is ended before they get to Croke Park but as for Mayo – their mad drama goes on. 

Thanks for following – bye! 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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