Armagh 1-19 Roscommon 2-22
Roscommon have booked their place in the Super 8s with a frankly glorious defeat of a valiant Armagh side in what may well have been the game of the summer in Portlaoise this afternoon.
Forty-four scores in any game of football is exceptional but it was the quality of the football as much as the quantity of the green and white flags being waved by the umpires that made for a spectacular round four All-Ireland qualifier on a baking hot day in the midlands.
Enda Smith was immense for the winners, claiming 2-1 from play, catching a world of high ball and continually thrusting deep into the Armagh half, especially in the second-half after the sublime Cathal Cregg had paved the way for the winners in the first.
That first-half was a blizzard of action. Twenty-four scores were recorded in that opening period and only seven wides, six of them from Roscommon, with Armagh making the most of the early running before the Connacht side found a higher gear.
Eleven players contributed to the scoreboard in that half but the undoubted stars were Andrew Murnin who signed for four points from play in that time and Cathal Cregg who created absolute havoc for Roscommon at the far end.
Cregg was shadowed by three different markers in that 35 or so minutes and yet his imprint was all over so much that was good. The best snapshot of them all was the team counter that ended with Enda Smith finding the Armagh net just on the half-hour.
It was a goal that allowed Roscommon to take a 1-11 to 0-12 lead into the interval.
The helter-skelter nature of it all never wavered on the restart and, if Armagh could never quite regain parity, then it wasn’t for the want of trying against an opponent that seemed to be running out of puff in the last quarter.
Kieran McGeeney’s men will look back at the period with some regrets, most notably the Rory Grugan penalty saved by Blaine Hughes after 44 minutes, although Mark Shields’ excellent goal a handful of minutes later made up for that.
But Roscommon had apparently saved some fuel for the draining last few minutes with Enda Smith’s 75th-minute goal coming on the back of three successive points claimed in injury-time to finally make the game safe.
A glorious end to a glorious game.
Scorers for Armagh: N Grimley (0-5, 4 frees); R Grugan (0-5, 2 frees); A Murnin (0-4); M Shields (1-0); A Forker, J Hall, R McShane, S Sheridan and G McParland (all 0-1).
Scorers for Roscommon: E Smith (2-1); C Murtagh (0-7, 3 frees); Murtagh (0-5, 4 frees); D Smith and C Cregg (both 0-3); C Devaney and C Compton (both 0-1).
Armagh: B Hughes; P Burns, B Donaghy, G McCabe; M Shields, R Owens, S Sheridan; C Vernon, C Mackin; R McShane, J Hill, N Grimley; R Grugan, A Murnin, A Forker. Subs: J McElroy for McCabe (34); R McQuillan for Sheridan (42); N Rowland for Donaghy (48); G McParland for Mackin (52); J Duffy for Hall (62); K Dyas for Murnin (66).
Roscommon: C Lavin; S McDermott, N McInerney, P Domican; J McManus, N Daly, D Murray; T O’Rourke, E Smith; C Murtagh, N Kilroy, C Devaney; D Smith, D Murtagh, C Cregg. Subs: G Patterson for Domican (45); F Cregg for C Murtagh (56); C Compton for D Smith (58); C Daly for McDermott (61); F Cregg for Kilroy (65); I Kilbride for N Daly (73).
Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan).