Armagh Minors today defeated Mayo at Croke Park to take the Championship for the first time since 1949!
ESB GAA Football All-Ireland Minor Final: Armagh 0-10 Mayo 0-7
Mayo were a point ahead with nine minutes left on the clock after Armagh had kicked a seven second half wides, many of which came at a crucial juncture midway through the second half.
But Paul McShane’s charges finally clicked into gear in the closing minutes to kick four unanswered points to leave Mayo facing heartache at the final hurdle for the second year in a row.
Robbie Tasker was Armagh’s stand-out player on the day, his two points from play in the dying minutes making amends for the profligacy of his team-mates earlier in the half.
The first half was an abrasive, close affair, with neither side giving anything away.
The biggest lead either side managed was when Armagh went two points up after seven minutes. Rory Grugan opened the scoring from a free, while Eugene McVerry kicked a fine second score after catching the ball and turning his man stylishly.
However, Mayo should have gone a goal up inside the first four minutes when Alex Corduff put Shane McDermott through on goal, but the Westerners’ centre-back put his shot straight at Stephen O’Reilly, the Orchard goalkeeper.
Mayo did manage to level the game with two quick fire points, Brian Rutledge and Danny Kirby the men on the mark.
Andrew Murnin put Armagh ahead minutes later, but Cillian O’Connor levelled the game for Mayo with a point from a tight angle after 15 minutes.
Armagh could – and probably should – have snaffled a goal for the Ulster men, but Gavin McParland dropped the ball when he was straight through on goal.
McVerry then put Armagh back in the led from a free before Mayo’s Fergal Durkan had the last say of the half, when he landed a brilliant equaliser just before the break to leave the sides level on 0-4 apiece at the interval.
The second half started on a far brighter note, with Rutledge grabbing Mayo’s opener within a minute of the restart. But Robbie Tasker responded immediately for Armagh, his brilliant angled shot setting the standard for his team-mates in the Orchard County attack.
McVerry responded to the challenge and landed his third point of the day, this time producing a carbon copy of his opener with another fine catch and kick on the turn.
Again, Mayo refused to lie down and within a minute they were level when Ciaran Charlton bombed up from wing-back and drove over a fine point with his right foot.
However, at that point Armagh should been out of sight, but they managed to hit five unforgivable wides in a row to leave Mayo clinging on for dear life.
Indeed, Mayo tookthe lead with just nine minutes left on the clock when Aida Walsh landed a free and they should have been further ahead a minute later but Jack McDonnell spurned a great goal chance.
Durkan played McDonnell in on goal but his shot was brilliantly stopped by O’Reilly, the Armagh goalkeeper.
It was to be Mayo’s final chance and they were punished in the final six minutes as the Armagh attack finally went into overdrive, kicking four vital points without reply.
Robbie Tasker started the charge with a fine score from play before Armagh nudged ahead with three minutes left when substitute Thomas McAlinden. They could have gone even further ahead but McAlinden was denied by a brilliant save by Mayo goalkeeper Michael Schlingermann.
Peter Carragher then added another crucial score a minute later before Tasker put the game beyond any doubt with his third of the day in the second minute of additional time.
Armagh: S O’Reilly; K Downey, R Finegan, K Nugent; D McKenna, N Rowland, J Morgan; P Carragher (0-1), J Donnelly; R Grugan, (0-1, 0-1f) A Murnin (0-1), C King; R Tasker (0-3), E McVerry (0-3, 0-1f), G McParland.
Subs: C McCafferty for R Finnegan ’53, T McAlinden (0-1) for E McVerry ’54.
Mayo: M Schlingermann; M Walsh, K Rogers, D Gavin; C Charlton (0-1), S McDermott, C Crowe; D Kirby (0-1), A Farrell; B Rutledge (0-2, 0-1f), D Coen, F Durkan (0-1); A Corduff, A Walsh (0-1, 0-1f), C O’Connor (0-1).