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Teams America: When Armagh and Roscommon toured the USA

"Although Roscommon beat us, there's one thing must be said, they won’t forget McMahon and the goal scored with his head."

Armagh great Jimmy Smyth came home from his team’s 1982 American tour with Roscommon and put pen to paper for a poem ('Owed to the USA’) reliving the memories of the three-city trip.

Some 42 years later, and with another chapter in the Armagh-Roscommon rivalry to come on Saturday at Croke Park, he’s tempted to dig it out in the lead up to the game, but even if he can’t find the dusty box it was stored in many moons ago, some lines just will stay with him forever.

3 October, 1982, Gaelic Park, New York. Armagh are on the attack against the Rossies and the ball is played across from the right towards the square.

Out of nowhere comes Fran McMahon, playing without boots, and he heads the ball to the net.

"Only Fran," Smyth laughs when remembering the tour with RTÉ Sport.

That memorable header from the one-time Dundalk striker wouldn’t be enough anyway. Gerry Fitzmaurice grabbed two goals for Roscommon in a 2-12 to 3-07 win and it was the Connacht outfit who lifted the Lefty Devine Memorial Cup – specially presented for the fixture.

That was game one of the tour and came soon after nearly 400 Irish souls had landed in the States – with the Armagh party numbering 210 as players brought entire families with them.

Raffles, draws and other fundraising initiatives helped pay for the trip. One evening, pop band ‘Luv Bug’ were booked for a dance – the group that would go on to represent Ireland at the Eurovision in 1986 with ‘You Can Count On Me.’

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