Clarke stel­lar as Ar­magh edge past Kil­dare

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Gaelic Games Championship 2017 -

here from how they’ve been play­ing all year. Per­haps con­scious of how Gal­way frus­trated Kil­dare in the Di­vi­sion Two fi­nal, they sat a good bit deeper than they had in other games and es­sen­tially played with just Clarke in their for­ward line for much of the night.

If it sounds like a low-risk strat­egy, it was ac­tu­ally the op­po­site, since it re­quired one player to strap the bulk of the team’s at­tack­ing threat to his own back. But then, when that player is Jamie Clarke, maybe it’s not such as risk.

Run­ning

The dis­play he gave in re­sponse here was in­cred­i­ble. When you are one at­tacker in a whole half of Croke Park, you can’t take a player off. You can’t let some­one else do the run­ning. You have to show for every ball and you have to do some­thing with it every time. Clarke scored four points from play, but to break it down to cold num­bers feels a lit­tle an­tisep­tic. He was an adorn­ment to the game on Sat­ur­day night.

“The thing about Jamie is, Jamie al­ways wants the ball,” said Ar­magh se­lec­tor Paddy McKeever af­ter­wards. “He al­ways shows. Even some­times when he has a qui­eter game, he’s ca­pa­ble of do­ing some­thing spe­cial to turn it.

“But I think the fact that he was there for vir­tu­ally every re­lease, every ball that was com­ing from mi d f i e l d , his work-rate in show­ing for the ball marked him out for how spe­cial he was to­day. The amount of as­sists he had, the free-kicks he won. Some­times it’s not al­ways get­ting the goal or post­ing up 0-6 or 0-7. His work rate was phe­nom­e­nal tonight.”

Good work

Murnin’s goal came five min­utes be­fore the break af­ter good work down the left flank by the al­ways dan­ger­ous Ai­dan Forker. With ref­eree Derek O’Ma­honey play­ing a fine ad­van­tage, Forker wrig­gled out of a bear hug to play Murnin in, and though the full-for­ward’s shot was blocked by Mick

Ar­magh’s Stephen Sheri­dan and Char­lie Ver­non chal­lenge Kil­dare’s Kevin Feely for a high ball dur­ing the qual­i­fier at Croke Park.

O’Grady, the ball squirted away from goal­keeper Mark Don­nel­lan as a re­sult. It was as good as in when Murnin fol­lowed up to make sure.

That se­cured 1-8 to 0-8 half-time lead for Ar­magh but Kil­dare ral­lied through the third quar­ter. Their prob­lem was they were able to get up­sides with­out ever gain­ing sig­nif­i­cant lengths. On a night when the sides were level eight times, Kil­dare led on three oc­ca­sions but never for more than a minute at a time. They were al- O’Han­lon for Forker (45mins); mins); ADuffy forGru­gan (64mins). PCrib­bin; ways gasp­ing for air.

On a breath­less night, that was the dif­fer­ence. BHughes; JMor­gan, CVer­non, PHughes; MShields, forMcKay (39mins); C forMurnin (49 mins); OO’Neill for Camp­bell (49 MO’Grady, DHy­land, OLyons; PKelly, JByrne, DSlat­tery; CMcNally for McCor­mack(45 mins);F Dowl­ing for Slat­tery (50mins); CO’Donoghue for KCrib­bin (black card, 59mins); E Cal­laghan for NKelly(65 mins); TMoolick for Flynn (68 mins). Derek O’Ma­honey (Tip­per­ary).

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