Mayo 2-13 Armagh 1-15: James Horan’s charges survive stern test

Mayo are through to the fourth round of the All-Ireland Qualifiers, after edging Armagh 2-13 to 1-15.

However, there was a dampener on proceedings from a Mayo perspective as Lee Keegan was forced off through injury, and now looks a serious doubt for next weekend’s fourth-round clash.

The match was built up as a rip-roaring, end-to-end affair. It certainly lived up to its billing in the early stages.

Both sides found the net within the first ten minutes. First of all, Rian O’Neill palmed it into the goal, and followed it up with his trademark ‘John Cena’ celebration. While the Orchard County were riding a wave of momentum, they were soon caught on the hop.

The ball was sent long into Andy Moran, and while the 2017 Footballer of the Year was unable to get a shot away himself, he cleverly picked out Fionn McDonagh, who rocketed it low into the net. Armagh net-minder Blaine Hughes will have been disappointed with not stopping the shot, but it meant the home side were up and running.

However, Kieran McGeeney’s charges weren’t rocked by the concession of the goal, and kicked on through O’Neill and Rory Grugan.

Things looked to be going from bad to worse from a Mayo point of view, as Lee Keegan went off injured and Moran was called ashore before the break.

However, they had a late rally to take a one-point lead into half-time, thanks to scores from Jason Doherty and Paddy Durcan.

After the break, it was a tit-for-tat affair. There were some breathtaking scores from both sides, as Jamie Clarke and Darren Coen were among those to raise white flags.

As the game looked like it was going to go right down to the wire, a breakthrough came for Mayo. Super-sub Kevin McLoughlin made a storming run through the Armagh defence and punted it past the onrushing Hughes to raise a huge cheers around MacHale Park.

Former captain Cillian O’Connor was introduced for his first Mayo appearance in a year, and Darren Coen looked like he couldn’t miss with some excellent point-taking.

However, just as the Connacht side opened up a four-point lead, Armagh rallied. Clarke and Stefan Cambell picked off a succession of points, and Mayo went over 10 minutes without a score.

Indeed, it could have been worse for James Horan’s charges, but Jamie Clarke and Rory Grugan spurned goal chances.

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