Orchard goal-den boys

Shaun Casey outlines the Armagh footballers’ best goal-scorers over the last decade

Jamie Clarke – 17

It’s no surprise that Jamie Clarke is Armagh’s top goal scorer of the last ten years.

Clarke recorded 17 goals from 2012-2021, despite missing the 2016, 2018 and 2021 seasons. On three occasions Clarke struck the net twice in one game, against Wicklow (2013 and 2015) and Leitrim (2013).

The 2013 season was his highest goal-scoring return as he netted five times throughout the season.. Clarke was also Armagh’s top scorer in 2015 with 3-20. Perhaps his best goal came against Tipperary in 2017 on Armagh’s run to the All-Ireland quarter-final.

Stefan Campbell – 12

‘Soupy’ has hit the net 12 times in the last ten years, his first goal coming in 2014 against Laois in the league. His second goal that season arrived in Croke Park and his punched effort looked to have secured an All-Ireland semi-final spot for Armagh, but Donegal edged through by one point.

The Clan na Gael sharpshooter top scored for the Orchard county in 2016, recording a personal haul of 2-57, both goals coming in the league against Fermanagh and Galway. Campbell’s most recent major came in the opening round of last year’s league win over Monaghan when he tucked away an early penalty.

Andrew Murnin – 12

The 2009 All-Ireland winning minor has been hindered by injures, but has still bagged 12 goals for Armagh.

His maiden goal came against Sligo in the Orchard county’s successful 2015 league campaign while he grabbed two in the 2017 championship, against Down and against Kildare in Croke Park.

Murnin hit an incredible 7-17 during 2018 and finished as the side’s second top scorer, with two goals in the McKenna Cup and against Sligo, Derry, Wexford and Fermanagh in the league. He came off the bench against Down in 2019 and punched the net to hand Kieran McGeeney his first provincial win as boss.

Ethan Rafferty – 10

Injuries have denied Rafferty regular first team football in the last few years, yet he remains the fourth highest goal scorer over the past decade.

Rafferty has hit the net on ten occasions and the Grange man raised a green flag on his championship debut, a 1-15 to 1-11 defeat to Cavan in 2013.

He netted against Wexford and Clare as Armagh won Division Three in 2015 and did likewise three years later against Sligo and Longford as the Orchard county achieved the same feat.

His goal against Westmeath in 2017 helped kick-start a championship run that ended with a heavy All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Tyrone at Croke Park.

Tony Kernan -7

Kernan recorded his first championship goal in 2013 as Armagh blew Leitrim away, 8-13 to 0-10.

The accurate Crossmaglen forward would go on to finish his Armagh career with seven goals to his name. Kernan top scored for Paul Grimley’s side that reached the All-Ireland quarter-final in 2014 with an individual return of 2-43.

He hit the net twice against Clare in round five of the 2015 league campaign as he helped his county gain promotion from Division Three and they proved to be his final three-pointers in an Armagh jersey.

Gavin McParland – 7

McParland rattled the net seven times in a career spanning eight years.

His first goal came in the opening round of the 2013 McKenna Cup against Cavan, although the Orchard county lost out 1-11 to 3-9. His most memorable goal return was in the same year, when he came off the bench against Wexford to nail a hat-trick and earn an important point that kept Armagh above the relegation zone.

The 2013 year was the Ballymacnab man’s highest scoring campagin, finishing with 4-7, while he also claimed goals against St Mary’s, scoring 2-4, in the 2015 McKenna Cup and against Westmeath in the backdoor of the 2018 championship.

Mark Shields – 7

For a player that has played most of his career as a defender, Shields has done pretty well in front of the posts, netting seven times in the last decade. His first goal in the orange and white came against Leitrim in 2013 while he hit two, one each against Tipperary and Limerick, in the 2015 league campaign.

Shields scored another against Down in the opening round of the 2017 Ulster Championship while and repeated the dose against the same opposition in 2019. He also rattled the net against Roscommon in 2018 after being moved from the full-back line to full-forward.

Rory Grugan – 7

Grugan grabbed his first ever Ulster Championship goal in last season’s round one win over Antrim, bringing his goal tally to seven for his Armagh career.

His first goal came in Armagh’s Qualifier loss to Laois in 2016, when Kieran McGeeney’s men lost out by the minimum of margins after a controversial refixture as the O’Moore county had used too many subs in the first game.

The Ballymacnab playmaker has top scored for Armagh three times in the last five years, including the 2017 season when they reached the last eight of the All-Ireland series. Grugan also top scored in 2018 (2-58) and 2021 (1-22), netting against Westmeath and Sligo in 2018.

Conor Turbitt – 6

The Clann Éireann forward is only entering his third year involved with the Orchard county and yet has hit six goals in 15 appearances.

His county career got off to a flying start as he recorded 2-2 on his debut against Cavan in the 2020 McKenna Cup. ‘Turbo’ struck again in the league meeting between the two in the same year, finishing with 1-6 this time.

His impact off the bench was huge for Armagh last season, as he raised green flags on three occasions after being introduced against Tyrone (league), Antrim and Monaghan (both Ulster Championship).

Rian O’Neill – 5

The Crossmaglen ace has top scored twice in three years for Armagh, during the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

Since making his debut in 2019, O’Neill has struck five goals, four coming in the championship. His first came against Monaghan in the 2019 Qualifiers and he followed it up with his second in the same game.

The 2021 All-Star nominee also palmed home a goal as Armagh pushed Mayo all the way in the same year.

His most recent three-pointer came from the penalty spot in last year’s Ulster Championship win over Antrim in the Athletic Grounds.

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