GList: An Orchard dominated rivalry

Down may be well ahead when it comes to the Sam Maguire roll of honour, but Armagh have won seven of the last 10 championship meetings against their neighbours…

By Niall McCoy


Armagh 4-10 Down 0-12

DOWN fans arrived at a rain-sodden Clones full of expectation after an impressive win over Donegal, but they were blitzed by an Armagh side that looked far too physical.

The early stages had been even, but two quick-fire goals from Andrew Murnin – not for the first time against Down – and Shane McPartlan saw Kieran McGeeney’s side take control, although the lead was only four points at the interval.

The second half though was a one-sided affair with Ciaran Mackin and, finally, Rian O’Neill raising green flags to confirm their comfortable passage to the Ulster final for the Orchard County.


Armagh 2-17 Down 3-13

IT took extra-time and a real thriller, but Kieran McGeeney finally got his first Ulster win as Armagh boss after a one-point Ulster quarter-final success in Newry.

Rian O’Neill made his Armagh championship debut and stamped his mark on the game with some fine scores but Pat Havern’s goal put Down ahead midway through the half, and they were still one ahead at the interval despite Caolan Mooney’s dismissal for a high challenge on Aidan Nugent.

Down stuttered at the start of the second half as goalkeeper Rory Burns was black-carded and Mark Shields goaled for the visitors and it looked like game over as Armagh led by five points with time almost up.

Donal O’Hare’s goal looked like a consolation, but points from Paul Devlin and James Guinness secured extra-time.

Down, back to 15, hit the front and led by three points, but the introduction of Andrew Murnin changed the game as he first kicked a great score before rising high to punch home the winning goal.


Down 0-15 Armagh 2-7

Armagh were expected to continue their long championship winning streak over Down when they arrived at Páirc Esler, but they looked sluggish from the off as Down came flying out of the traps to kick four points.

Armagh were relying on goals, and they got two through Mark Shields and Andrew Murnin had them one up – 2-1 to 0-6 – after 22 minutes.

The Orchard County should have had more goals – Aaron McKay blazing over and Murnin seeing an effort brilliantly tipped onto the post by Anthony Doherty – and they would be made to pay for their misses.

With Darragh O’Hanlon, Shay Millar and Caolan Mooney excelling, Down were easily the better side in the second half and bar an Aidan Forker effort into the side-netting, the away side offered little resistance.

An interesting note, with injuries causing problems, Armagh had to put an outfielder on the bench as sub goalie. The man that day? Ethan Rafferty.


Armagh 1-15 Down 1-10

DOWN came to the Athletic Grounds having reached the All-Ireland final the year before, but they were met by a pumped up home side who deserved progressed to the provincial last four.

Played on the same night Barcelona defeated Man United in the Champions League final, there was a real buzz about this evening fixture with Armagh playing their first championship game at the venue since 1995.

It was the Mourne County that started brighter through points from Mark Poland and Marty Clarke, but 1-5 with just a point in reply put Armagh in a strong position, Jamie Clarke finishing low to the net for their goal and Mícheál O’Rourke providing a couple of glorious assists for further scores from Clarke and Billy Joe Padden.

Down were handled a lifeline coming up to the break with Poland showed great feet to jink inside and fire to the net, and the lead was down to two at the break.

The sides were level at 1-8 apiece with Paul McComiskey kicked a standard beauty, but from there Armagh took over, kicking the final four points to win by five.


Armagh 1-12 Down 0-11

AN Ulster final spot was at stake in Clones and a virtuoso display from Ronan Clarke ensured that it would be Armagh that earned it before going to lift the Anglo Celt, the last time they have managed to.

Clarke was causing mayhem, scoring and assisting, and when Stephen Kernan drilled home after 25 minutes, they looked unstoppable.

Down, however, found their stride and Ambrose Rogers started to dominate and some great free-taking from Aidan Carr saw them trail by just three points at the break, 1-5 to 0-05.

Their cause was helped by Martin O’Rourke’s dismissal on the resumption, and when Carr brought the gap back to one, Down sensed victory.

It was the Orchard County that finished stronger though with Aidan O’Rourke and substitute Brian Mallon kicking the insurance scores.


Armagh 1-13 Down 2-4

The Qualifiers were a new concept in 2001 and the meeting of Armagh and Down in Casement Park was certainly one that caught the eye.

Nearly 20,000 came to Belfast (Antrim were also playing Leitrim) and while only six points separated the sides at the end, Pete McGrath’s Down were easily second best.

Armagh led 0-7 to 0-3 at the break with Kieran McGeeney in sublime form, and Stevie McDonnell increased the tally by finishing to the net to complete a great team move involving ‘Geezer’ and championship debutant Martin O’Rourke.

Down trailed by 10 but the introduction of veteran Mickey Linden sparked them into life and he found the net moments after Mayobridge clubmate Benny Coulter had done likewise.

The gap was down to four points when Paul Hearty made a brave save from Coulter with seven minutes remaining and Armagh saw it out.


Armagh 3-12 Down 0-10

THE 1999 Ulster final is remembered as one of the fondest days in Armagh GAA’s history as they ended their 17-year wait for an Ulster title in spectacular style.

Too often in Down’s shadow, they absolutely blitzed their more successful neighbours with Oisín McConville and Diarmaid Marsden causing mayhem.

The latter set up the former for the first of their goals before Marsden brilliantly fielded a high ball in and blasted to the net to put the huge Armagh crowd in dreamland.

Late on, a youthful Paddy McKeever broke in from the side-line and was fouled close to goal, allowing McConville to slot home his second goal.

The Cross man would finish with 2-7 and the scenes afterwards would be spectacular as now GAA President Jarlath Burns lifted the Anglo Celt in front of a sea of orange.


Armagh 0-16 Down 0-11

THIS was perhaps the first sign that there was something brewing in Armagh as they easily accounted for Down in their Ulster opener.

The way they did it spoke volumes too. The teams were level on eight points apiece when Armagh were reduced to 14 men following Enda McNulty’s dismissal, but they out-scored their opponents 0-8 to 0-3 from there.

Kieran McGeeney was the star of the show and they responded well to the loss of Cathal O’Rourke through injury with Ger Houlihan excelling in his place. Marsden, with eight points from frees and play, starred.

Shane Mulholland carried most of Down’s threat but they were second best on the day.

Armagh would go on to lose to Derry in the semi-final, but this was an important step after years of Ulster defeats.


Down 1-12 Armagh 0-9

The All-Ireland champions rolled into town and absolutely walked all over Armagh on their own patch.

Played in a blazing sun, Armagh tried to be physical but were punished with Gary Mason landing seven frees to go with his sole point from play.

The Down goal came from James McCartan who leapt brilliantly to catch a John Kelly pass above John Rafferty, swivelled and fired past Benny Tierney.

The Mullaghbawn goalie had to make a number of saves in the second half, but it mattered little as Pete McGrath’s side sauntered through to the next round.


Down 1-7 Armagh 0-8

ONE of the most famous matches in Ulster history, not for the game itself but for the fact that it was so poor yet Down would build on it to win their fourth All-Ireland title.

It really was rancid stuff at the Marshes but Mickey Linden’s penalty was a bright spark as he drilled it home after Peter Withnell had been fouled.

It was one of two home scores in the first half as Armagh led 0-6 to 1-1 going into the changing rooms, but the visitors would only manage two second-half scores themselves – both of those points.

They were left to rue Jim McConville’s first-half miss when, off balance, he missed an open net.

For Down, thoughts of Sam felt outlandish, but they would go all the way and number four would arrive just a few months later.

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