On a breezy, but fine day it was Roscommon who started best. In the 5th minute Jason Kilkenny and his brother Keith combined cleverly to set up Adrian Murphy who finished with aplomb for a fine goal to give the Rossies an early lead.
Ryan Gaffney kept Armagh in it with some good free-taking, but with Keith Kilkenny, Cillian Egan and Jerry Fallon (free) pointing, Roscommon led 1-3 to 0-3 by the 15th minute. However Roscommon were struggling at midfield, and, inspired by Declan Coulter, Armagh got back into the game in the second quarter.
Points from Ryan Gaffney (free) and Declan Coulter left the Orchard County just a point behind (1-3 to 0-5) by the 22nd minute. Johnny Moran pointed for Roscommon, but scores from Curry and Carvill had Armagh level by the 26th minute.
Then, after Conor Corvan scored an excellent Armagh point in the 27th minute, they struck for a really top class goal a minute later. Corvan made a searing run along the end-line before handpassing through the eye of a needle to the in-rushing Cathal Carvill, who made no mistake from close-range.
Adrian Murphy’s point on the run in the 31st minute was vital for Roscommon in reply, and at half-time Armagh led by 1-8 to 1-5. Armagh burst from the blocks on the restart and points from Eoin McGuinness and Ryan Gaffney (free) put them five ahead.
Roscommon reorganised after that and stuck defiantly to their opponents. Cathal Kelly was on at midfield, Johnny Coyne and Cathal Kenny were into the attack, and now Roscommon began to get more possession. Johnny Moran struck a mighty point from 45 metres in the 44th minute and two minutes later Roscommon should have had a goal, but Cathal Kenny’s shot was saved when he was straight through.
Jerry Fallon pointed frees in the 49th and 52nd minutes to reduce the gap to two, and suddenly it was all to play for. Then the sides exchanged points within a minute with Declan Coulter on the mark for Armagh and Johnny Coyne responding with a score after a super puck-out from Noel Fallon.
Roscommon were hit with a massive blow when Cathal Kelly was issued with a straight red card by referee John O’Brien after he had consulted with a linesmen. It followed a tackle on Nathan Curry. Roscommon were down to 14 men – but they battled even harder now.
Jerry Fallon pointed a free in the 57th minute to narrow the gap to just one. But Armagh seemed to have weathered the storm when two Ryan Gaffney frees extended their lead to three by the 62nd minute. Still, Roscommon were always in with a shout. Johnny Moran pointed in the 63rd minute and four minutes later Johnny Coyne scored a peach, leaving only one point between the sides again.
In the 68th minute Ryan Gaffney was on target with a 50-metre free. Two in it. As the clock slipped over the 70-minute mark it looked like Roscommon’s brave effort was going to end in defeat. But Johnny Coyne had other ideas. In one last desperate attack he drove deep into the heart of the Armagh defence. He was taken down almost 25 metres from goal – slightly to the right of the posts – it was a definite free.
Up steps ‘Captain Fantastic’ Micheal Kelly and the rest, as they say, is history. It was a sensational strike and a goal fit to win any final. What a year of sport it has been so far in County Roscommon.
Roscommon: Noel Fallon; Ian Delaney, Peter Kellehan, Liam Kilcline; Declan Leonard, Micheal Kelly (1-0, free), Tomas Seale; Cathal Dolan, Jason Kilkenny; Johnny Moran (0-3), Ronan O’Meara, Jerry Fallon (0-4, frees); Cillian Egan (0-1), Keith Kilkenny (0-1), Adrian Murphy (1-1). Subs: Cathal Kelly for Dolan (33), Johnny Coyne (0-2) for Seale (h-t), Cathal Kenny for Egan (43), Eamon Flanagan for Murphy (60), Gary Fallon for J Fallon (64). Armagh: Simon Doherty; Stephen Reneghan, Ciaran Clifford, Conor Devlin; Kieran McKernan, Nathan Curry (0-1, ’65), Shea Gaffney; John Corvan, Declan Coulter (0-2); Ryan Gaffney (0-8, frees), Cathal Carvill (1-0), David Carvill (0-1); Martin Moan, Eoin McGuinness (0-1), Conor Corvan (0-1). Subs: Cailin Gorman for Moan (52), Conor McKee for McGuinness (62), Artie McGuinness for Carvill (65). Referee: John O’Brien (Tipperary).