Armagh’s last two matches in the Athletic Grounds have produced 11 goals (they shared the spoils in a six-goal thriller with Wexford last week) but there was none better than Jamie Clarke’s sixth minute strike to mark his return to inter-county action.
The Crossmaglen star was imperious in the first half and scored 1-2 as well as setting up the remaining 1-3 of Armagh’s total as they led 2-5 to 1-5 at the break.
“Jamie is a special talent and he showed it again tonight,” said Grimley.
“If there was a transfer market, every county in Ireland would want him. He was very clinical in the first-half and it was great to see all the Crossmaglen boys back. ”
Tony Kernan was also key to Armagh securing their first win in Division 2, coming off the bench to score 1-1 in the last seven minutes. He got the last touch on a goal created by a superb pass from Clarke to Brian Mallon in the 63rd minute, and Kernan also converted a last minute 45, after Longford had closed the gap to a point.
While Armagh clicked up front and dominated midfield, Longford’s Francis McGee caused major problems for their full-back line as he scored 2-2 from play.
But Longford, who have now lost their three games in this division by a combined tally of four points, kicked eight wides in the second half. Sean McCormack kicked 0-7, six from frees, but he also missed a few chances in the second-half.
Longford felt they had a decent shout for a penalty ignored when the same player was hauled to the ground.
The first half was played at championship tempo with an array of quality scores. Clarke tormented the Longford full-back line while at the other end Francis McGee was causing serious problems and Armagh’s two corner-backs were replaced long before the end.
Clarke’s goal was superb, using his agility and speed to turn Peter Foy and then curling the ball into the top right-hand corner of the net. He also set up a goal for Stefan Forker in the 17th minute.
The second half was really poor and full of mistakes. There were more wides than points and no score from play until McGee’s point in the 62nd minute. That was quickly followed by Kernan’s goal a minute later.
McGee also had the final touch on a second Longford goal three minutes from the end but Kernan’s 45 helped Armagh hold on.
“It’s devastating, really, when you put in an effort like they have in the three games and have nothing to show for it,” admitted Longford boss Glenn Ryan.
Scorers for Armagh: J Clarke, S Forker (1f) 1-2 each, T Kernan 1-1 (45), A Kernan 0-2fs, K Dyas 0-1.
Scorers for Longford: F McGee 2-2, S McCormack 0-7 (6fs).
ARMAGH: P McEvoy; G McCooey, J Donnelly, S Finnegan; A Kernan, B Donaghy, C McKeever; J Lavery, S Harold; K Dyas, S Campbell, C Rafferty; J Clarke, S Forker, J Hanratty Subs for Armagh: J Morgan for Finnegan (25), D McKenna for McCooey (47), T Kernan for Hanratty (51), B Mallon for Campbell (51).
LONGFORD: D Sheridan; D Brady, B Gilleran, P Foy; M Quinn, K Diffley, S Mulligan; J Keegan, M Brady; B McElvanney, D McElligott, A Rowen; F McGee, P Barden, S McCormack Subs for Longford: D Barden for P Barden (ht), CP Smyth for Diffley (ht), N Mulligan for Keegan (58).
Referee: Michael Duffy (Sligo).