All-Ireland Senior Football Championship quarter-final
Armagh 3-18 Galway 2-21 AET
Galway win 4-1 on penalties
By Michael McMullan
ARMAGH’S All-Ireland hopes were left in tatters after Sunday’s penalty shoot-out defeat at the hands of Galway in Croke Park.
Over 100 minutes of action couldn’t separate the teams, but when Stefan Campbell and Conor Turbitt missed their penalties in the shoot-out, Matthew Tierney stepped up to shoot Galway to victory.
It marked 20 years, to the weekend, since David O’Leary shot Ireland to glory in that historic World Cup moment against Romania in Genoa.
Dramatic was the buzz word to describe an afternoon at Croke Park that had pretty much everything. Goals. Misses. Hits. Cards. Magic, It had it all, with players pouring every ounce of energy into a crusade with Derry awaiting the winners.
On the negative side, there was an unsavoury incident at the players left the pitch after normal time. As the both teams ran to the dressing rooms, a brawl ensued at the mouth of the tunnel that saw Sean Kelly and Aidan Nugent issued with red cards before David Coldrick threw the ball in for extra time.
Armagh needed goals from Conor Turbitt and Aidan Nugent to get themselves back from the brink before Rian O’Neill held his nerve to kick a monster equaliser to force extra-time in front of a bumper attendance of 71,353 in a Croker cauldron.
Damien Comer hit the first Galway score before Armagh shot into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead with Stefan Campbell and Rian O’Neill among the scorers.
Armagh were direct and efficient in front of goal, with Greg McCabe sitting deep as their sweeper to cut off any space a Galway kicking game could thrive off.
Galway trailed by two points when Comer almost fisted to the net when Dylan McHugh’s floated diagonal pass landed in the penalty area.
Armagh will wonder how they were level at half time, 0-7 all, after stamping their authority on the game.
The first major twist in the game arrived in the 42nd minute. A Tierney rasper came back of the cross bar, but he managed to grab possession from the rebound before setting up Johnny Heaney for a palmed goal.
Shane Walsh tagged on a point and Galway were 1-9 to 0-8 ahead.
Despite having McCabe sent off for a charge on Matthew Tierney, Armagh found themselves back in the game before Galway pulled clear once again.
When Kieran Molloy slotted over, the Tribesmen were 1-16 to 0-13 ahead and in the driving seat.
Armagh brought in Conor Turbitt, pushing Rian O’Neill in beside Aidan Nugent and went for a direct approach.
A high ball to the Galway square came back off the bar, with O’Neill putting ‘keeper Gleeson under pressure and Nugent bundled the ball over the line in stoppages time.
An O’Neill catch and pass across goal led to the second goal, with Gleeson passing the ball into the path of Conor Turbitt who instinctively hammered to the net.
O’Neill’s monster free made it 1-17 to 2-14 to force extra time and still the sides couldn’t be separated, with the side level again at the break.
Armagh made the first move in extra time when Rory Grugan took advantage a high ball bouncing in front of a hesitant Gleeson’s to palm to the net for a 3-16 to 1-20 lead.
Galway weren’t finished yet and in the pattern of the game, they found an ounce of energy to claw themselves back into the lead when debutant Billy Mannion passed to Cillian McDaid who sotto the net from close range.
Substitute Eoin Woods levelled matters before Jemar Hall looked to have won the game at last.
But it was McDaid who had the last say with a pressure point to get Galway back on level terms and into a penalty shoot-out.
Manager Pádraic Joyce later admitted his players had been practicing penalties every night at training and it showed. Walsh, Comer and Robert Finnerty all slammed their kicks to the net before Tierney’s winner.
Galway: C Gleeson; L Silke, S Kelly, J Glynn; D McHugh, J Daly, K Molloy (0-1); P Conroy (0-1), M Tierney (0-2); P Kelly (0-1); C McDaid (1-2), J Heaney (1-0); R Finnerty (0-4), D Comer (0-3), S Walsh (0-6, 5f)
Subs: F Ó Laoí (0-1) for C McDaid (Blood sub 49-4), F Ó Laoí for M Tierney (Blood sub 62-70), R Ó Laoí for P Kelly (70), N Daly for R Finnerty (75), O Gallagher for S Walsh (79), B Mannion, S Walsh (both started extra-time), O Gallagher for J Heaney (93), J Foley for L Silke (95), C Sweeney for J Heaney (101)
Scored: S Walsh, D Comer, R Finnerty, M Tierney
Armagh: E Rafferty; J Morgan, A Forker, C O’Neill (0-1); A McKay, G McCabe, J Óg Burns (0-1); S Sheridan, B Crealey; J Duffy, S Campbell (0-3), R O’Neill (0-4, 3f); A Nugent (1-2, 1m), R Grugan (1-3, 2f), A Murnin,
Subs: Connaire Mackin for S Sheridan (44); C Turbitt (1-1) for A Murnin (44), Ciaran Mackin for A McKay (55), J Kieran (0-1) for J Duffy (69), E Woods (0-1) for J Óg Burns (69), J Óg Burns, N Rowland (both started extra time), M Shields for A Forker (85), J Hall (0-1) for R Grugan (94) J Duffy for B Crealey (97)
Scored: R O’Neill
Missed: S Campbell, C Turbitt
Referee: D Coldrick (Meath)