Armagh 3-15 London 3-14
A riveting Nicky Rackard Cup final went right to the wire at Croke Park today, before Armagh’s Paul Breen hit a dramatic winning point in stoppage time.
It was an agonising finish for a London side that travelled to GAA headquarters intent on making amends for defeat in last year’s decider.
The Exiles did have chances in the dying moments to send the game to extra-time, but they sailed just wide of the posts and the Ulster men survived to savour the glory.
Martin Finn and Mark Mythen were on target for the Exiles in the early stages, with John Corvan, Paul Breen, Ryan Gaffney and Paul McCormack responding at the other end.
Breen got in for an Armagh goal in the 12th minute, finishing from close range after McCormack’s penalty was stopped by full-back Matt Ryan.
Breen hit 1-2 in the space of four minutes to help Armagh to a 1-6 to 0-5 lead, and they stretched the advantage to seven in the 21st minute with a second goal.
Breen’s long delivery was met first-time by Gaffney to give London goalkeeper
John Joe Burke no chance whatsoever.
But London responded with two goals in the space of four minutes. David Maher ran on to Finn’s pass to finish from close range, and in the 27th minute, it was Finn who blasted home a second to cap a flowing move involving Aiden Fitzgerald and Tom Toomey.
Maher slotted over an equaliser, and the sides went in at the break deadlocked on 2-7 each.
Maher grabbed his second goal just 13 seconds into the second half, finishing at the second attempt past Joseph Burke, but less than two minutes later, Breen drilled home his second to make it all-square again.
The sides were level for the fifth time when Maher added a point, but the Ulster men responded again with three excellent efforts from Gaffney, McCormack and substitute Cathal Carvill.
London went four points behind, but three Richaed O’Connell points and an Aiden Fitzgerald effort kept them very much in touch going into the final five minutes.
Two Finn frees brought the sides level, but Breen picked off the winner in the third minute of stoppage time.
Armagh: J Burke, B Mallon (0-1), P McArdle, P Gaffney, B McCormack, E McDonnell, N Curry, F McMullan, B Breen (0-1), R Gaffney (1-2), J Corvan (0-2), K McKernan, P McCormack (0-3), G Enright, P Breen (2-4 (0-2f).
Subs: C Carragher (0-1) for McArdle (25), M Lennon (0-1) for McKernan (62)
London: JJ Burke, C Burke, M Ryan, E Phelan, M Fitzsimmons, C Forde, K Kennedy, N Forde, J Reddan, M Mythen (0-2), R O’Connell (0-3), A Fitzgerald (0-1), D Maher (2-2), M Finn 1-6, 0-4f, 0-1 ’65), T Toomey.
Subs: N Coady for Phelan (23), B Forde for C Burke (40), P Stephenson for Forde (53), F Tierney for Fitzsimmons (59), K Walsh for Reddan (63)
Referee: D Magee (Down).