All-Ireland qualifiers: Armagh edged out by Mayo in Castlebar

Mayo forward Andy Moran is halted by Armagh's Paddy Burns at McHale Park
Mayo forward Andy Moran is halted by Armagh's Paddy Burns at McHale Park

Armagh made their All-Ireland exit after a dramatic 2-13 to 1-15 defeat by Mayo in Saturday night's qualifier.

Rian O'Neill netted early for the visitors at McHale Park but Fionn McDonagh scored a minute later to help Mayo into a 1-6 to 1-5 half-time lead.

Jamie Clarke hit three points on the restart to put Armagh ahead only for Mayo to seize control with Kevin McLoughlin scoring their second goal.

Armagh fought back from five points down but came up one short.

The Ulster side will rue poor finishing, particularly in the second, as they slipped out of the championship in this third-round qualifier.

O'Neill palmed in from Aidan Nugent's pass on six minutes but a three-point lead was quickly cancelled out as McDonagh blasted through the legs of keeper Blain Hughes and into the Orchard net.

Mayo midfielder Aidan O'Shea evades the grasp of Stefan Campbell in Castlebar
Mayo midfielder Aidan O'Shea evades the grasp of Stefan Campbell in Castlebar

It remained close with O'Neill and Clarke tagging on points for Armagh before Stefan Campbell slotted over to give them a 1-5 to 1-4 advantage.

Mayo were struggling in front of goal with three straight wides and then they lost the influential Lee Keegan to an ankle injury.

However, the league champions rallied at the close of the first half with points from Jason Doherty and Paddy Durcan.

Clarke had a quiet first 35 minutes but the Crossmaglen clubman came to life early in the second half, popping over the opening two points.

McLoughlin levelled only for Clarke to add another before Darren Coen rattled over two quickfire points as Mayo took a grip on affairs.

A fine Niall Grimley score was the only highlight in a period in which Mayo scored 1-4, including McLoughlin driving through before firing high into the net in the 52nd minute.

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McGeeney rues wasteful Orchard finishing in Mayo defeat

Armagh were five behind with 15 minutes remaining and although Clarke saw his shot pushed onto the post by David Clarke, the comeback was on.

Clarke split the posts before Rory Grugan wasted a goal chance by rifling over the bar with the Mayo keeper stranded.

Campbell banged over two more and it was a one-point game but Cillian O'Connor, making his return from injury, calmed Mayo nerves with two frees.

Armagh fought to the very end and points from O'Neill and Campbell again left the minimum between the sides.

Grimley had a last-gasp chance to equalise but his long-range effort flew wide as Mayo held on to progress to Monday's fourth-round qualifiers draw.

"It's very disappointing but that's the way sport goes sometimes," said Orchard boss Kieran McGeeney.

"We created enough chances (to win it) - we should have had more on the board. However, I'm delighted the boys are starting to believe in themselves."

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