DRIFT AS MAL CALLS IT QUITS

Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - Sport - BY JOHN FALLON

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

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