Clarke stellar as Armagh edge past Kildare
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.
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.”
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).