Round 4B Qualifier: Armagh edge dramatic encounter
All Ireland SFC Round 4B Qualifier
ARMAGH 1-17 KILDARE 0-17
By Paul Keane at Croke Park
Armagh are through to the All-Ireland football quarter-finals and will face Dublin or Tyrone after arguably the most impressive display of the Kieran McGeeney era.
A draw will take place tomorrow afternoon to decide exactly which of those superpower outfits that Armagh face, but on present form, they will fancy playing anyone.
The 2002 All-Ireland champions lost out to Down in the Ulster championship, but have now successfully navigated all four rounds of the qualifiers to return to the last eight of the Championship.
It is Armagh's first time at that stage in three years and they will look for another huge display from Jamie Clarke, who was excellent in this Round 4B qualifier.
The Crossmaglen Rangers man hit four points from play and was excellent in the second-half in particular as Armagh finished strong and outscored Kildare by 0-4 to 0-1 in the closing 10 minutes or so to win by three.
Andrew Murnin's 31st minute goal ultimately separated the sides while Gavin McParland hit 0-3 and there were important scores at the death from Ethan Rafferty and Niall Grimley to copper fasten the memorable win.
Kildare were hot favourites after blasting 1-17 past Dublin in the Leinster final despite ultimately losing that game by nine points.
Yet statistics didn't favour a Kildare win because of the 67 losing provincial finalists to contest a final round qualifier beforehand, just 25 had won.
And Armagh were clearly up for the contest in what was their first Championship game at Croke Park since the 2014 All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Donegal.
Armagh lost that game narrowly yet looked set to kick on the following season under new boss McGeeney.
They've found the going difficult until this summer though with Tipperary infamously denying the Ulster outfit promotion to Division 2 earlier this year.
Down then knocked Armagh out of Ulster, but their form since then has been strong with wins over Fermanagh, Westmeath, Tipperary and now the Lilywhites.
Aidan Forker's brilliant point put Armagh 0-6 to 0-3 after 18 minutes yet Kildare responded with four-in-a-row to move ahead themselves.
It was that type of see-saw contest and Murnin's goal handed Armagh a 1-8 to 0-8 lead at the interval.
Rory Grugan did superbly to shake off Keith Cribbin and set up Murnin for the goal at the Hill 16 End.
Clarke's second point of the game after the restart put Armagh four clear, 1-9 to 0-8, and in dreamland against the Division 2 league finalists.
But Kildare were never likely to make life too easy on their former manager McGeeney who managed them for six seasons between 2008 and 2013.
Ex-soccer pro Kevin Feely and the impressive Paddy Brophy reeled off points for Kildare who levelled it up three times between the 46th and 58th minutes.
They were still deadlocked at the hour mark at 1-13 to 0-16, but Armagh had saved their strongest kick for the last lap.
Grugan put Armagh ahead and they outscored Kildare by three points in the final 10 minutes or so to seal a famous win.
Scorers for Armagh: Andrew Murnin 1-1, Jamie Clarke 0-4, Gavin McParland 0-3, Rory Grugan 0-2 (1f), Niall Grimley 0-2 (2fs), Stefan Campbell 0-1, Aidan Forker 0-1, Joe McElroy 0-1, Brendan Donaghy 0-1, Ethan Rafferty 0-1.
*Scorers for Kildare: *Kevin Feely 0-5 (5fs), Paddy Brophy 0-3, Niall Kelly 0-2, Keith Cribbin 0-2, Fergal Conway 0-2, Daniel Flynn 0-1, Mark Donnellan 0-1 (1f), Ben McCormack 0-1.
ARMAGH: Blaine Hughes; Charlie Vernon, James Morgan, Paul Hughes; Brendan Donaghy, Mark Shields, Aidan Forker; Stephen Sheridan, Niall Grimley; Aaron McKay, Stefan Campbell, Rory Grugan; Jamie Clarke, Andrew Murnin, Gavin McParland.
Subs: Joe McElroy for McKay (38), Ciaran O'Hanlon for Forker (45), Ethan Rafferty for Murnin (48), Oisin O'Neill for Campbell (48), Anthony Duffy for Grugan (64).
KILDARE: Mark Donnellan; Peter Kelly, David Hyland, Ollie Lyons; Keith Cribbin, Johnny Byrne, Mick O'Grady; Kevin Feely, Paul Cribbin; Fergal Conway, Paddy Brophy, David Slattery; Daniel Flynn, Niall Kelly, Ben McCormack.
Subs: Cathal McNally for McCormack (45), Fionn Dowling for Slattery (50), Mark Hyland for Kelly (57), Cian O'Donoghue for K Cribbin (59), Eamonn Callaghan for N Kelly (64), Tommy Moolick for Flynn (67).
REFEREE: Derek O'Mahoney (Tipperary).