Late surge carries Armagh over the line against Clare

Armagh 2-16 - 1-15 Clare

Armagh pulled off the ultimate smash n'grab in the Athletic Grounds hitting 1-4 without reply to book a place in the fourth round of All-Ireland SFC qualifiers.

Clare completely collapsed once sub Joe McElroy hit an equalising goal in the 70th minute while Armagh were the team playing with belief and a real purpose in a fast and furious finish in the Athletic Grounds.

Kieran McGeeney's side survived kicking 18 wides, and found some late inspiration to book a place in Monday's All-Ireland SFC fourth round qualifier draw, with a whirlwind finish.

Clare looked to be heading through when David Tubridy followed up his own saved penalty to tap the rebound into the net to put the visitors four points ahead after 67 minutes.

Jamie Malone of Clare in action against Stephen Sheridan of Armagh. Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

They still led by three as the game approached the 70th minute, with Armagh's 18 wides looking like the statistic that would finish their back-door run.

However, some incredible leadership by Rory Grugan and a match-winning haul of 1-2 from the Armagh subs turned this game on its head right at the death.

McElroy's goal levelled it at the start of six minutes of stoppage time and there a furious flurry of points from Grugan, subs Gavin McParland and Ross McQuillan followed by Aidan Forker put the gloss on an incredible afternoon for Armagh, who are now just one game away from equalling last year's progress to the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

Ryan McShane of Armagh in action against Aaron Fitzgerald of Clare. Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Orchard skipper Grugan had a huge role in the turnaround with three of his six points from play coming in the last 10 minutes in sweltering conditions in the Athletic Grounds.

Clare led 0-9 to 0-7 at half time and dominated the third quarter, opening the gap up to five points as the game approached the all-important final quarter.

That's when things got interesting with Andrew Murnin's smart finish on the turn starting the first Armagh revival. That left them a point behind but Clare thought they'd weathered the storm with Turbidy's goal.

A high challenge by Armagh sub Ryan Owens on Courtney gave Clare a penalty and while Blaine Hughes saved the shot, Tubridy followed up the rebound and tapped it home.

But there was still time for one more twist, with McElroy's goal igniting Armagh's furious finish to book their place in the last 12 of the All-Ireland series.

Scorers for Armagh – Rory Grugan 0-6 (2f), Andrew Murnin 1-1, Niall Grimley 0-4 (4f), Joe McElroy 1-0, Ryan McShane 0-1, Andrew Murnin 0-1, Aidan Forker 0-1, Ross McQuillan 0-1, Gavin McParland 0-1

Scorers for Clare – David Tubridy 1-3, Eoin Cleary 0-3 (1f), Jamie Malone 0-3, Eimhin Courtney 0-2, Pearse Lillis 0-2, Keelan Sexton 0-1, Cathal O'Connor 0-1

Armagh: 1. Blaine Hughes 2. Patrick Burns 3. Aaron McKay 4. Gregory McCabe 5. Mark Shields 6. Brendan Donaghy, 9. Connaire Mackin, 8. Charlie Vernon 15. Stephen Sheridan 13. Ryan McShane 12. Niall Grimley 11. Jemar Hall 10. Rory Grugan 14. Andrew Murnin 7. Aidan Forker

Subs: 19. Niall Rowland for Mackin (HT) 26. Ryan Owens for McKay (42) 25 Ross McQuillan for Hall (50), 18. Joe McElroy for Sheridan (55), Gavin McParland for McShane (65) 20. Jason Duffy for Shields (70, BC)

Clare: 1. Robert Eyres 6. Aaron Fitzgerald 3. Cillian Brennan 2. Gordon Kelly 5. Cian O'Dea 7. Pearse Killis 4. Eoghan Collins 8. Gary Brennan 9. Cathal O'Connor, 10. Ciaran Malone 14. Keelan Sexton 12. Jamie Malone 13. Eimhin Courtney 11. Eoin Cleary 15. David Tubridy

Subs: 21. Kevin Harnett for Collins (HT) 16. Killian Roche for Eyres (50) 24. Conal O hAinifein for O'Dea (57, BC) 22. Gearoid O'Brien for Fitzgerald (63), 18. Gavin Cooney for Sexton (65)

Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford)


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