Armagh 1-17 Kildare 0-17
After 70 minutes of end-to-end action, Armagh secured their place in the All-Ireland Quarter Final for the first time in three years.
Armagh overcame a competitive Kildare team, in the sides first ever Championship meeting, to see out a three point win.
All over the field, the Orchard County worked tirelessly and their kick out routine, lead by keeper Blaine Hughes, meant they controlled the midfield battle for long periods.
All too often however, when the eventual victors looked like pulling away, Kildare reeled them back in and some ill-discipline in defence provided the Lilywhites the chance to stay in touch.
But it was Armagh’s attack that really caught the eye. Their accuracy in front of the posts was the telling factor in the contest, scoring 9/13 shots in the first 35 minutes.
Within the opening eight minutes, all three full forwards had got on the score-sheet and by the final whistle Jamie Clarke, Andrew Murnin and Gavin McParland had accounted for 1-8 of their sides final tally.
It was Murnin who grabbed the game’s only goal and proved to be the match winning score. Rory Grugan’s dummy floored Peter Kelly and Grugan directed the ball across to the full forward.
Murnin shot low and the diving defender did his job in blocking the shot, but unfortunately for David Hyland, the ball spilled past the goalkeeper and into the net to grant Armagh the only goal of the day.
The sides were evenly matched early on before Armagh began to get on top, and the rotation of their forward line left the Kildare defence dizzy.
Clarke often pulled further out the field in a play-making role while Grugan found himself playing in the full forward line on several occasions.
Wing half back Forker bombed forward from his defensive duties on every opportunity, and fired Armagh three ahead with a delightful score using the outside of his left boot to great effect.
Niall Kelly kept Kildare ticking over with their second score from play while Kevin Feely punish Armagh’s defensive fouls, hitting three frees in the first half.
Kildare nudged ahead with three points on the trot, but Stephen Campbell pulled one back to level the contest for the fourth time, Armagh 0-7 Kildare 0-7, before Murnin’s three-pointer put some daylight between the sides.
The margin was soon four when McParland fired over the score of the half. Rory Grugan, involved twice in the move, found his club mate McParland on the edge of the ‘D’.
The corner forward earned an extra yard of space with a dummy hand pass, before turning on to his favourite left foot and driving the ball between the posts.
Niall Kelly reduced the deficit to three before the half time whistle sounded with the Orchard County ahead at the break, 1-8 to 0-8.
Kildare came roaring back into the contest in the second half with five of the opening seven points to see the sides matched on the scoreboard once again.
Clarke, who was giving Ollie Lyons a torrid time, found his range for a third score but the end to end action continued, and two Fergal Conway scores brought Kildare back on top for the first time since the 29th minute of the game.
Armagh refused to wilt, with McParland and Clarke scoring either side of a Brophy point to leave nothing between the sides.
Grugan pointed an easy free before Brendan Donaghy abandoned his sweeper duties to romp forward and fire Armagh two points ahead with the aid of the upright.
Feely would tag on his fifth pointed free of the contest but Armagh finished stronger to book their spot in the last eight.
A spectacular Ethan Rafferty score secured the tie while Niall Grimley chipped over a free near the end to hand Armagh a three point lead as the final whistle sounded.
As we now know, Armagh didn’t have much joy in their next Croke Park outing, but their performance against Kildare that day will live long in the memory for all those in attendance.
Armagh: 1. Blaine Hughes, 2. James Morgan, 3. Charlie Vernon, 4. Paul Hughes, 5. Mark Shields, 6. Brendan Donaghy (0-1) 7. Aidan Forker (0-1), 8. Stephen Sheridan, 9. Niall Grimley (0-2 2f), 17. Aaron McKay, 24. Stefan Campbell (0-1), 12. Rory Grugan (0-2 1f), 13. Jamie Clarke (0-4), 14. Andrew Murnin (1-1), 15. Gavin McParland (0-3). Subs: 27. Joe McElroy (0-1) for McKay, 23. Ciaron O’Hanlon for Forker, 10. Ethan Rafferty (0-1) for Murnin, 26. Oisin O’Neill for Campbell, 11. Anto Duffy for Grugan.
Kildare: 1.Mark Donnellan (0-1 1f), 2. Mick O’Grady, 3. David Hyland, 4. Ollie Lyons, 5. Peter Kelly, 6. Johnny Byrne, 7. Keith Cribben (0-2), 8. Kevin Feely (0-5 5f), 20. Paul Cribben, 10. Fergal Conway (0-2), 11. Niall Kelly (0-2), 12. David Slattery, 13. Paddy Brophy (0-3), 14. Daniel Flynn (0-1), 21. Ben McCormack (0-1). Subs: 15. Cathal McNally for McCormack, 17. Fionn Dowling for Slattery, 22. Mark Hyland for N. Kelly, 24. Cian O’Donoghue for K. Cribben, 18. Eamon Callaghan for P. Kelly, 9. Tommy Moolick for Flynn.