gaelic games

Armagh's Charlie Vernon and Monaghan's Kieran Hughes
Armagh's Charlie Vernon and Monaghan's Kieran Hughes

A Rory Grugan point deep into added time gave Armagh a draw with Monaghan in this Ulster SFC semi-final in Clones on Saturday evening.

The teams were level seven times – including both half-time and full-time – in a typically tense Ulster derby, which will now go to a replay next Sunday, July 6.

Armagh were first on the scoreboard through Jamie Clarke, but a brace of long-range frees by Rory Beggan and one from Jack McCarron edged Monaghan ahead.

Stefan Campbell and Mark Shields kept Armagh on Monaghan’s coat-tails, before Kieran Hughes and Conor McManus found their range for the Ulster champions.

Another Beggan free opened up a three-point gap, but Tony Kernan, Aidan Forker and Campbell replied to leave Armagh on level terms at half-time on a scoreline of 0-6 apiece.

Like in the first period, Clarke opened the second-half scoring, only for McManus and substitute Stephen Gollogly to hit back for Monaghan.

Tony Kernan levelled it again before Dick Clerkin and Gollogly moved Monaghan ahead once more. A Kevin Dyas point was cancelled out by a Beggan free, only for Tony Kernan and Stefan Forker to respond.

Monaghan looked set to kick for home when Kieran Hughes, Beggan and Christopher McGuinness hit points in the space of four minutes, but Clarke and Campbell gave Armagh hope, and Grugan held his nerve from a free at the death to equalise.

Monaghan boss Malachy O’Rourke claimed referee Joe McQuillan was inconsistent in awarding the free from which Armagh earned their draw.

“If you are going to give them in the last minute, you have to give them during the game,” said O’Rourke.

“There had been other challenges like that which went unpunished and that is why it was a wee bit harsh.

“The referee said was for a jersey pull, and maybe that was right - but it was not the only jersey that was pulled during the match.

“The referees do not have an easy job and he made the decision as he saw fit, but it was very disappointing for us.

“Fair play to Armagh, though, coming back so well and we have to do it all again.”

In Sunday’s All-Ireland qualifier clash, Down proved much too strong for Leitrim winning 4-18 to 0-9.

Conor Laverty top-scored with 2-4 from play. The damage was done in the opening half, when goals from Laverty and Niall Madine had the home side 2-6 to 0-2 ahead after 24 minutes.

“It was a no-win situation for us really,” said McCartan.

“If we didn’t really win by a lot of points we would be criticised, and if we did we would not get the credit.

“This game gave us the chance to get some players back and give them some game time to try to create more competition in the panel.”