Clarke’s late salvo adds gloss

Armagh's Jamie Clarke with Wicklow's Aaron Murphy
Armagh's Jamie Clarke with Wicklow's Aaron Murphy

Armagh shrugged off the cobwebs from their previous defeat against Donegal to beat Wicklow by 10 points at the Athletic Grounds on Saturday to secure a second round qualifier against Galway on July 11th .

Kieran McGeeney’s side looked to be a little apprehensive against the Leinster side who were in touch for three quarters of the game.

At the end though it was the brilliance of Jamie Clarke who struck two late goals which emphasised the gulf in class between the teams.

The winners will need to improve dramatically, and although they are still unsure of their best 15, the players who are currently lining out will need a big confidence boost if a long summer run is to be sustained.

Captain Kieran McKeever who missed the cut through injury was replaced by Brendan Donaghy and Andrew Murnan and Stefan Campbell who both returned for the Donegal game looked a lot sharper on this occasion.

Ethan and Caolin Rafferty formed a fluid midfield pairing with Aaron Findon missing out following his impressive outing against Donegal.

Armagh bossed the opening period , they lead on a score line of 0-09 to 1-02 , the Wicklow goal coming from James Stafford close to the break gave the Garden County hope but on all occasions when they were threatened Armagh moved up a gear despite some sloppy passing and finishing.

Stefan Campbell had two goal opportunities one of which hit the side netting and although Jamie Clarke’s late brace put a gloss on his sides performance, McGeeney’s team were in a no win situation irrespective of the method of victory, the team will no doubt be judged on a higher stage but with Finnian Moriarty, Kieran McKeever, Aaron Findon and Kevin Dyas all starting on the bench the side can show further improvement.