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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 August 2005, 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK
Armagh overwhelm Laois at Croker
Steven McDonnell
Man-of-the-match Steven McDonnell hit 1-5 for Armagh
Armagh overcame a slow start to overwhelm Laois 2-17 to 1-11 in Saturday's Bank of Ireland All-Ireland Football Quarter-Final at Croke Park.

The Orchard County looked in trouble early on as Laois led 0-6 to 0-3.

But the game then completely changed and Steven McDonnell's goal helped Armagh lead 1-8 to 0-6 at the break.

Armagh continued to dominate and while Barry Brennan goaled for Laois, Oisin McConville replied with another three-pointer as Armagh won easily.

The Orchard County's display was even more impressive given that inspirational captain Kieran McGeeney was forced to drop out of the team before the start because of injury.

Indeed, Armagh appeared to be missing McGeeney early on as the Laois forward line's direct running caused problems for the Ulster Champions' defence.

The sides were level at 0-2 to 0-2 after five minutes but Laois then hit four of the next five scores to lead 0-6 to 0-3 after 15 minutes.

At that stage Laois were dominating possession in the middle third of the field but crucially then missed five good chances over the next 10 minutes to add to their lead.

Armagh got back on the scoreboard with an Aaron Kernan free in the 25th minute and within seven minutes, Joe Kernan's side were ahead when the impressive Ronan Clarke pointed after a sweeping move.

Philip Loughran helped Armagh into the All-Ireland Semi-Finals
Armagh's Philip Loughran challenges Padraig Clancy

A further Clarke point extended Armagh's lead to 0-8 to 0-6 a minute before the break and Clarke then set-up McDonnell's brilliant goal with a superb flick-on into the Killeavy man's path.

McDonnell still had to produce an accomplished finish although Laois goalkeeper Fergal Byron perhaps might have saved the shot had he stood a little taller.

Even with 35 minutes still left, the goal looked to be a hammer blow to Laois and so it proved.

Laois introduced Gary Cavanagh and Chris Conway for Stephen Kelly and Brian McDonald at the break but Mick O'Dwyer's alterations made no difference.

Ross Munnelly, who kept battling right to the end, hit the opening score of the second half but but next five scores came from Armagh to end any remote hope of a Laois fightback.

Laois scored a fortunate goal 20 minutes from time when Paul Hearty somehow let a miss-hit Barry Brennan shot squeeze between his legs but while there was now only six between the teams, Armagh remained unruffled.

With six minutes left, Armagh boss Joe Kernan felt able to give Kevin McElvanna, Stephen Kernan and Andrew McCann some championship action.

Two minutes later, a slick pass from Ronan Clarke set up a charging Oisin McConville who still had to beat two challenges before slamming the ball into an empty net.

The ease of the goal summed up Armagh's comprehensive victory.

Armagh: P Hearty; A Mallon, F Bellew, E McNulty; A Kernan (0-2), K McGeeney, C McKeever; P Loughran, P McGrane (0-1); M O'Rourke (0-2), J McEntee (0-1), O McConville (1-3);S McDonnell (1-5), R Clarke (0-3), B Mallon. Subs: T McEntee, N McElvanna, A McCann, Stephen Kernan.

Laois: F Byron, A Fennelly, D Rooney, J Higgins, C Begley, T Kelly, P McMahon, P Clancy, N Garvan, R Munnelly (0-4), B Brennan (1-1), B Sheehan (0-4), D Brennan, S Kelly (0-1), B McDonald. Subs: C Conway (0-1), G Cavanagh.

Kernan's wise words for purists
20 Aug 05 |  Gaelic Games
Armagh 2-17 1-11 Laois
20 Aug 05 |  Gaelic Games

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