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05th Feb 2023

Armagh’s risk vs reward style pulls through to steal dramatic draw with Mayo

Lee Costello

Armagh Mayo

Armagh 0-17 0-17 Mayo.

Armagh played loose and fast with their football in today’s game against Mayo but it paid off in the end as they managed to steal a dramatic draw right at the death.

In a pulsating game of football, Mayo were five points up with ten minutes to go but the Orchard county dug deep and showed real bravery and determination.

They probably started the better of the two sides, playing some lovely kicking football, always trying to play the ball fast, and hitting some wonderful scores, particularly from Rian O’Neill and Rory Grugan.

Armagh Mayo

Their risk vs reward style of football however nearly backfired in dramatic fashion as Ethan Rafferty scuffed a short kick out straight into the hands of Cillian O’Connor, who was on as a blood sub at that stage.

Gaelic football’s most prolific scorer was the last person Rafferty wanted to see on the end of that ball as he was miles of his line, and could only watch as O’Connor narrowly mistimed his lobbed attempt, and it went over the bar instead.

Mayo pushed up on the kick outs in the second half and really took control of the game, and Armagh found it particularly difficult to contain Aidan O’Shea who was deployed at full forward.

There have been cries for the Breaffy man to be used there more often in recent years, and Kevin McStay finally took the plunge and got immediate results.

O’Shea kicked two scores but caused havoc, winning marks, free kicks, breaking balls and in the few times he dropped deep, he ran at the Armagh defence with full licence to attack.

Ryan O’Donoghue was his clinical self and with ten minutes to go, it appeared as though the Connacht side were just too efficient for the daring Ulster team.

Armagh Mayo

Whatever cons there may be about having a roaming goalkeeper like Rafferty, his pros definitely outweighed them as he won an incredible kick out from his opposition number right in the middle of the park.

The flying goalie attacked the heart of Mayo and caused mayhem for them and before they you knew it there was only one point in it.

Eoghan McLaughlin received the ball in Armagh’s half, but instead of holding on to it and recycling to try and run down the last minute of the clock, he seemed inspired by Kieran McGeeney’s brave game plan and went for an audacious score.

It didn’t pay off however, as he sliced it well wide, much to the annoyance of his teammate O’Connor.

Armagh then won a free down at the other end and with the Athletic grounds burning with anticipation, O’Neill was the coolest man in the place, and slotted it over the bar to secure a draw.

How far this exciting style of football will get the Orchard county in this season’s championship is unknown, but we’re going to have a lot of fun watching them try.

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