Sligo 2-24 Armagh 1-18
While Armagh lost out in Markievicz Park against Sligo, the wide margin suggested by the scoreline doesn’t do the Orchard County justice.
They may not have deserved to win the game, but they fought tooth and nail to remain in the encounter for as long as they could.
Sligo powered home in the final quarter however and rattled over seven of the game’s final eight scores in an exciting tussle.
Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch, the main scorer in the black and white, grabbed five of those scores to bring his overall tally to 1-11, although only his last point came from open play.
Likewise, Fionntain Donnelly enjoyed a memorable day in front of the posts, smashing over 0-14 on his own, displaying his accuracy from the dead ball.
It was the lack of other scorers throughout the Armagh ranks that proved their undoing, as no other player got on the score sheet more than once.
Indeed, it was Donnelly who got the game up and running as early as the opening minute, but Armagh were under pressure right from the off.
Despite playing against the wind, the home side shot into an early 4-1 lead before Aaron Fox halted their scoring sequence.
Peter McKearney fired one over from near the sideline before being awarded for his bravery in midfield with a free which Donnelly duly pointed.
Just as Armagh were finding their groove, Sligo stretched their lead with the opening goal of the game through Joe McHugh.
Padraig O’Connor’s side shot back however with Mark McClatchey raising a green flag for the men in orange to reduce the deficit to one.
The sides traded scores just before the short whistle sounded with the hosts ahead by the minimum at the interval, 1-10 to 1-9.
Sligo hit the decisive score early in the second half as Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch riffled the ball to the net from the penalty spot.
Armagh had their own penalty opportunity moments later, but a fine save denied Fionntain Donnelly the chance to close the gap.
It was end to end action during the third quarter with points from Donnelly (7) and Eoin McGuinness keeping Armagh in touch.
A fine save from net-minder Simon Doherty prevented a certain goal for Sligo, who could always keep at least three points ahead.
With Armagh failing to get within reach or grab the crucial goal they craved, Sligo drove home in the final few minutes of the game to secure the two points.
Armagh will be disappointed by the result but there were plenty of positives from the performance that the management team will ponder on.
Next up is an away trip to Monaghan and Armagh will be confident of getting back on track with a win in round three.
Armagh Team: Simon Doherty, Ciaran Clifford, Tiarnan Nevin, Jim Short, Paudie Lappin, Aaron Fox 0-1, Odhran Curry, Paddy McBride, Peter McKearney 0-1, Fionntain Donnelly 0-14, Eoin McGuinness 0-1, Oisin Keenan, Stevie Keenan, Mark McClatchey 1-0, Danny Magee 0-1. Subs: Tiarnan O’Neill for S. Keenan, Liam Woods for Oisin Keenan, Liam McElroy for D. Magee, Stephen McKearney for E. McGuinness.