Armagh progress to All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals after victory over Mayo at Croke Park

Mark Shields of Armagh with Mikey Burke of Meath
Mark Shields of Armagh with Mikey Burke of Meath

Armagh are through to the All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals for the first time since 2008 after a comprehensive 0-18 to 0-13 victory over Meath in Croke Park.

The Orchard County were the dominant side throughout and only for a wobble before half-time, when they conceded five unanswered points in as many minutes, they were comfortable front-runners from early on against a floundering Meath side.

The winners turned the screw in the second half, with Aaron Kernan – making his first start of the year – and Stefan Campbell pulling the strings, and they had eight different scorers as they brought Meath’s year to a disappointing end.

Tellingly, in the last 25 minutes, the winners outscored their opponents by eight points to three.

Meanwhile, an extra-time goal from Christopher McGuinness gave Monaghan a first championship win in Croke Park since 1930 and put the Ulster side through to an All-Ireland quarter-final against Dublin next Saturday.

McGuinness’ cool finish in the ninth minute of extra-time was the crucial score which edged Monaghan past Kildare on a 2-16 to 2-14 scoreline.

Emmet Bolton scored two first-half goals for Kildare, who thought they had won the game when Eoghan O’Flaherty pointed in the last minute of normal time.

However, a free, won and converted by Conor McManus in the first minute of injury time, levelled the scores at 2-10 to 1-13, and took a dramatic game all the way to extra-time.

“We are delighted to have got the victory. We knew the history books were against us in that we hadn’t won a championship match at Croke Park in 84 years,” said Monaghan boss Malachy O’Rourke.

“At times we didn’t play as well as we would have liked but the one thing that shone through was the character and the hunger of the boys. They just kept going.

“We never let Kildare get too far in front of us. We kept going right to the finish to ensure the game went into extra time.

“In the extra-time, I thought we got stronger and that’s when we really showed the hunger.”

In the Minor championship, Donegal proved too strong for Roscommon, but Armagh bowed out against Mayo.