Armagh 1-10 Monaghan 1-7
Mattie Lennon proved to be the hero in Armagh’s round two win over Monaghan in the Athletic Grounds on Saturday. His goal just after the half time interval brought Armagh straight back into the game, and ultimately decided the outcome.
With the wind at their backs, the visiting side sailed into an early two point lead before a fantastic James Walsh point halved the gap. Walsh powerfully drove forward and beautifully sliced the ball over the bar with the outside of his left foot.
Monaghan struck their third point in the 14th minute prior to Lennon grabbing his first, as he raced past his marker and fisted the ball between the posts.
The Farney men tagged out a further two scores to retain their dominance on the score board and Armagh were thankful that the away team squandered a great goal opportunity, the full forward seeing his effort on goal blast wide past the post.
Armagh responded with a point through corner forward Darragh McMullan while Monaghan claimed the final score of the half, to see the score at the break, Armagh 0-3 Monaghan 0-6.
The second half was eight minutes old when the first score came, a Monaghan effort was heroically blocked down by Zion McKernan and Armagh quickly countered with the ball finding its way to Mattie Lennon.
Lennon displayed an air of confidence as he raced through the Monaghan defence and coolly slotted the ball past the charging keeper to level the game.
With Lennon catching the eye at one end, Cathal Doherty was called into action at the other, and denied Monaghan the chance to get their noses ahead, pulling off a fantastic save.
Zion McKernan continued to roam forward and his pass into the attack bounced in front of the eyes of the Monaghan net minder and hopped over the bar to hand Armagh the lead for the first time.
Doherty could do nothing to stop Monaghan’s next attack however and the away team shot themselves back in front with a goal of their own.
It was all Armagh from there however, and the home side began to power home with Lennon at the forefront for his side.
Darragh McMullan slotted over a super score under severe pressure while James Walsh claimed his second point, chipping over a handy free after Ciaran Donnelly had been fouled.
A superb turnover in the middle of the field by star man Lennon set Armagh off on another attack with Donnelly this time splitting the posts to edge Armagh ahead once again.
Lennon pounced on the resulting short kick and drove the ball over the bar before striking his second point in as many minutes to leave Armagh three points ahead as the game entered the final ten minutes.
Monaghan did pull one back but substitute Fergal Kieran restored Armagh’s lead and they held their three point advantage until the final whistle, seeing out a 1-10 to 1-7 victory.
Armagh’s defence preformed strongly throughout the second half with Captain Michael McConville central to denying Monaghan crucial scoring opportunities. James Walsh and Oran McCafferty formed a strong centerfield pairing while Lennon was the leader up front.
The minors are included in a four way tie at the top of the team, along with Derry, Antrim and Down, who all sit on two points while Monaghan remain at the foot of the league as the only team yet to pick up a point.
Round three is next on the agenda with Down the visitors next Saturday and Armagh will look to keep their winning momentum going for as long as possible.
Armagh: Cathal Doherty, Ruairi McCann, Adam Garvey, Gareth Murphy, Fergal O’Brien, Niall Dummigan, Zion McKernan (0-1), James Walsh (0-2), Oran McCafferty, Michael McConville, Oisin Conaty, James O’Hara, Darragh McMullan (0-2), Antoin McParland, Mattie Lennon (1-3). Subs: Ciaran Donnelly (0-1) for A. McParland, Ross Magee for A. Garvey, Luke McKeever for O. Conaty, Fergal Kieran (0-1) for J. O’Hara.