DRIFT AS MAL CALLS IT QUITS
Armagh 2-17 Monaghan 1-12
MONAGHAN boss Malachy O’Rourke quit after last year’s All-Ireland semi-finalists were sent crashing out of the 2019 Championship.
The Fermanagh man (below) brought the curtain down on his reign after his side were taken apart in their own backyard in Clones.
Rian O’Neill blasted home two goals and Jamie Clarke tormented the home defence on a night when Kieran McGeeney’s men sent out a clear message at St Tiernahc’s Park that they will be a force to be reckoned with in the qualifiers.
Clarke was to the fore in most of Armagh’s scores in the opening half as they set up a platform for victory when they led by 0-11 to 0-10 at the break, having played against the breeze.
The sides exchanged points three times in the opening ten minutes but then Armagh’s slicker movement saw them pull 0-8 to 0-5 clear by the 22nd minute thanks to efforts from Rian O’Neill, Paul Hughes, Stefan Campbell, Hall and Aidan Nugent.
Monaghan’s only response was a free then a superb effort from the left by McManus Beggan’s brace got them moving.
McManus landed a free from the left touchline to level at 0-8 each before Michael Bannigan and Clarke traded points, and then Conor McCarthy and Hall did likewise before Andrew Murnin gave Armagh the lead at the break.
Niall Grimley extended Armagh’s lead three minutes after the restart with an excellent score on the run down the left.
Burns put a goal between them when Armagh showed good patience in attack and then as Monaghan pushed forward in search of scores Armagh turned the screw, breaking from deep for the opening goal.
O’Neill supplied the finish after Aidan Nugent’s effort was blocked to make it 1-14 to 0-10 after 50 minutes.
Monaghan never looked like recovering. Clarke continued to torment them and he set up O’Neill for his second goal of the match after 59 minutes, while at the other end the home attack met with a wall of defenders.
Jack McCarron found the net with four minutes left but by then the season was over for Monaghan and for O’Rourke’s reign.
MIITXED’ESMOTIOONS’: RRian OO’NeilUl scorRes foKr ArEmag’hS