Armstrong to the rescue
Tyrone 0-11 Armagh 1-06
The undoubted talents of Sean Armstrong led Tyrone to the senior football final after a two-point victory over an Armagh side that just wouldn’t give up in the semifinal.
Galway star Armstrong scored five hugely important points and would have had a goal in the mix but for a brilliant stop by Alan Hearty in the Armagh nets.
Armagh’s never say die attitude kept them in the game throughout, and they actually held a two point lead at the break courtesy of a James Moynagh goal.
Their depleted panel couldn’t stand the pressure in the second half, however, as Tyrone were able to chip away and then hold the lead when they secured it.
Tyrone opened the scoring after 30 seconds with Niall Farrell finding the range after good work by Armstrong. Brian Murphy cancelled it out immediately, however, and Armagh were very unlucky to be denied a legitimate penalty claim three minutes later.
Moynagh soloed in from the right and was fouled twice, the second time he was pulled to the ground. Nothing was given, however, and Tyrone had a huge sigh of relief.
They attacked at the other end, with Hearty making a brilliant save from Farrell when again Armstrong set him up.
Armstrong followed it with a point that flew over off the body of Hearty when he again made a very good stop on a goal bound shot. The keeper was keeping his side in the contest, and his play was crucial.
Armagh pushed to the front with a goal at the other end when Moynagh drilled home his second chance after a free was won by Ciaran Conlon who released the wing forward.
The next 10 minutes were dominated on the scoreboard by Tyrone. They had three of the four points, with Armstrong grabbing all three.
He was roaming across the full forward line, dangerous each time he was on the ball. The outburst put his side on level terms as the half wound down.
Armagh showed their intense will, however, by firing the last two points of the half. An excellent 50 by Stephen Sheridan followed by a long range gem from Kevin Rodgers gave Armagh a 1-4 to 0-5 interval lead.
Tyrone added to their total with three points to open the second half. It pushed them into the lead and they were now controlling the contest. They also had four wides which showed their superiority on the field.
After Farrell added a point for Tyrone on 14 minutes, Armagh finally opened their account for the second half with a Sheridan 50 that was followed by a towering Rodgers score.
They were battling hard but were finding scores close to impossible to come by. Armstrong added a point to the Tyrone total before Darren Doherty fired over the insurance point off his right foot with five minutes left on the clock.
Tyrone is a well-balanced side. Joe Bell, Ryan Canavan and Brendan McGourty led a defense that made life difficult for Armagh throughout and held them to two scores in the final 30 minutes.
Jason Killeen had some good moments in the middle, while Darren Doherty, Niall Farrell and sub Adam Fitzgerald were very active up front.
Sean Armstrong had a pivotal hour and is an ideal target man for the side.
Alan Hearty was outstanding for Armagh. His saves were brilliant while his varied kick outs all had purpose. Brian Rodgers, the excellent Aiden Morton and Eddie Greenan were all inspirational at the back.
Sheridan and Rodgers won the middle; Rodgers went off injured for a period but returned. Ciaran Conlon and James Moynagh were the best of the forwards.
The loss to injuries of Kevin McGeeney and Caolan Short was too much to overcome. It does create the question -- is it fair to ask a team to play what was in essence a
quarterfinal on a Thursday, then the semi on the Sunday? The answer is a resounding NO.
Armagh: 1 Alan Hearty, 2 Stewart Stokes, 3 Collie Fearan, 4 Brian Rodgers, 5 Raymie Kane, 6 Eddie Greenan, 7 Aiden Morton, 8 Steve Sheridan (0-2), 9 Kevin Rodgers (0-2), 10 James Moynagh (1-0), 11 Brian Murphy (0-1), 12 Allen McFerran, 13 Ciaran Conlon (0-1), 14 Shane Lyons, 15 Patsy Martin. Sub: Chris Morton.
Tyrone: 1 Damien Corrigan, 2 Mike Gallagher, 3 Aiden Power, 4 Joe Bell, 5 Ryan Canavan, 6 Brendan McGourty, 7 Seamus Skeffington, 8 Conor McNabb, 9 Jason Killeen (0-1), 10 Darren Doherty (0-1), 11 Mickey Sloan (0-1), 12 Shane Ryan, 13 Donal Hartnett, 14 Sean Armstrong (0-5), 15 Niall Farrell (0-2). Subs: Adam Fitzgerald (0-1), Paul Mulhearne.