Comer goal sends Tribesmen through to next round

Damien Comer’s second-half goal proved decisive as Galway marched on in the All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers, a three points win at the Athletic Grounds earning them a place in tomorrow's third round draw.

Comer goal sends Tribesmen through to next round

Armagh 0-12 Galway 1-12

Damien Comer’s second-half goal proved decisive as Galway marched on in the All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers, a three points win at the Athletic Grounds earning them a place in tomorrow's third round draw.

It was a desperate backs-to-the-wall finale from the Tribesmen, who had to withstand a furious late rally from the home side.

But in the end, the westerners deserved their victory, despite a controversial call by referee David Gough, who waved away penalty appeals after Jamie Clarke appeared to be taken down late in the second quarter.

Armagh set up with a heavily fortified defensive system, but basic errors and lapses in discipline handed their opponents generous scoring opportunities.

Paul Conroy accepted the invitation to land a couple of early frees, but the home side hit the front in the 12th minute when corner back James Morgan pushed forward to land a long range point.

Ethan Rafferty had also scored from distance as Kieran McGeeney’s men sought to by-pass the packed Galway rearguard.

But rather than persist with the route one strategy, Armagh tried to work the ball in close, and were frequently dispossessed.

Galway had greater powers of penetration, and Conroy was on target again, before wing back Liam Silke landed their first point from play.

They moved into a two points lead by the 20th minute, with Damien Comer using his physical strength to burst through for a well taken score, and even when Andrew Murnion and Rafferty exploited defensive mistakes to pull back points, the westerners restored the two-point cushion with points from Comer and Gary Sice.

Conroy’s fourth converted free made it 0-9 to 0-7 at the break.

A generously awarded free presetened Sice with the opportunity to stretch the advantage, and in the 42nd minute, Conroy sent in a free from around 50 metres, which dropped short, and Comer rose highest in a thicket of players to punch the ball past goalkeeper Matthew McNeice.

Galway had been threatening that score since the restart, having gained a foothold around midfield through O Curraoin and Thomas Flynn, and they went seven points clear through livewire substitute Danny Cummins and another Sice free.

And they maintained their discipline at the back, holding their opponents scoreless until the 16th minute of the half, when substitute Mark Shields landed a point.

Clarke, still unable to showcase his talents due to the close attentions of Sweeney, had a penalty claim turned down by referee David Gough, and an injection of fresh legs off the bench failed to spark the Orchard challenge.

Gareth Bradshaw and Finian Hanley defended solidly as the Ulster men, five points behind going into the final 10 minutes, searched for that flash of inspiration that would save their season.

Two Aidan Former points edged them closer, before Tony Kernan narrowed the gap to a goal, but Galway defended with desperation, at the cost of black card dismissals for Sice and Sweeney.

Armagh: M McNeice, A Mallon, C Vernon, J Morgan (0-1), M Murray, B Donaghy, S Connell, A Findon, E Rafferty (0-3, 2f), S Campbell, A Former (0-2, 1f), C Rafferty, M McKenna (0-2), A Murnin (0-1), J Clarke (0-1).

Subs: D McKenna for E Rafferty, M Shields (0-1) for Connell, T Kernan (0-1) for M McKenna, S Harold for Findon

Galway: B O’Donoghue, J Duane, F Hanley, C Sweeney, L Silke (0-1), G O’Donnell, G Bradshaw, F O Curraoin, T Flynn, G Sice (0-3, 2f), P Conroy (0-4, 4f), S Denvir, P Og O Griofa (0-1), D Comer (1-2), M Lundy.

Subs: D Cummins (0-1) for Denvir, A Varley for O Griofa, P Sweeney for Sice (BC), P Varley for C Sweeney (BC)

Referee: D Gough (Meath).

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