Derry snatch the extra glory

December 16, 2013

Those who braved the wintry conditions were treated to a very entertaining spectacle at Oliver Plunkett Park, Crossmaglen as extra-time was need to separate Armagh and Derry in the final of the O’Fiaich Cup. The two counties had met at the Athletic Grounds on Wednesday night last in a dead rubber round robin game won 4-16 to 2-13 by Derry which had them installed as favourites to take the Cup for the first time.

Wind and rain assisted Armagh took the lead 5 minutes in as Kyle Carragher set up Stefan Campbell for the opening score which was quickly cancelled by a reply from Mark Lynch. Corner forward Stefan Forker added a brace, one from a free, to stretch the home side ahead 3-1. A pointed free from James Kielt and one from play from Enda Lynn drew Derry level. Aidan Forker and Lynch traded frees to leave it 4-all with 15 minutes of the half remaining. The tit for tat point scoring continued as Kyle Carragher edged Armagh ahead by a second before for Lynn restored parity. Derry took the lead for the first time when midfielder Fergal Doherty burst forward to fist a point. Jamie Clarke made his Orchard return coming on in place of O’Neill as Carragher set up full forward Ethan Rafferty who tied it at 6 each. The lively Carragher was fouled enabling Stefan Forker regain the lead for Armagh but Derry were instantly level from the boot of Aaron Kerrigan as the half drew to a close. Before Down referee Brendan Rice blew the short whistle he had his arms wide apart indicating an Armagh penalty as Carragher was grounded following a slick move between himself Stefan Forker and Clarke. A very poor spot kick from Jamie was comfortably saved by Derry custodian Thomas Mallon to leave it 7 points apiece at half-time.

In what was obviously agreed by the managers the benches could be fully used and boy did they use them with the whole second half a swopping session between substitutes and players leaving it near impossible to keep track of what was going on. Kielt fired Derry ahead inside the opening minute but Carragher restored parity only for centre back Mark Craig to edge Derry ahead once more.

Ten minutes after the re-start the first bit of real daylight between the sides occurred as Declan Mullan skipped inside his marker to calmly slot to the net past a helpless Rodgers. From the kick-out Benny Heron took off on a 40 yard sole before scoring the point of the game. Armagh picked off their first score for 10 minutes from an Aidan Forker free following a foul on Harold. Caolan Rafferty replaced the yellow carded Grugan .

After Aidan Forker picked up a yellow Armagh came raiding with substitutes McVerry and Clarke linking well before the ball broke off a Derry defender to Carragher who made no mistake with an equalizing goal 1-10 each some 14 minutes into the second half. Derry goalscorer Mullan landed a smart point but the sides were level for the ninth time when McVerry converted a free. Forceful McVerry ran at the Derry defence offloaded to Clarke who was upended in the square for a second Armagh penalty. The Crossmaglen ace got up dusted himself down and in direct contrast to his first effort blasted the ball to the roof of the net 2-11 to 1-11 to Armagh. Ethan Rafferty was issued with a black card just before Cailean O’Boyle from a free left it a 2 point game. Impressive Derry midfielder Lynch combined with O’Boyle to slot the ball past the despairing dive of goalkeeper Geoghegan and defender McCooey to put Derry 2-12 to 2-11 ahead with 10 minutes left on the clock. O’Boyle doubled the Derry lead with his second point and the Oak Leafers looked home and hosed but for the intervention of Caolan Rafferty. The Granemore player had halved the deficit, with seemingly the late leveller narrowly missed by Harold, but Caolan once again responded to the pressure to restore final parity at 2-13 each.

With light fast fading a replay was talked about but then the teams agreed to play 5 minutes a half extra-time to see if a winner could be found. Peter Cassidy gave Derry a quick lead short lived as Harold pointed the equalizer. Jamie Clarke edged Armagh a point in front as Brian Mallon picked up a black card. Derry pressed for parity and forced a “45” which sailed between the uprights from the boot of Herron. Armagh broke but lost vital possession as Derry launched one last assault which brought glory as James Kearney split the posts for the match winning point.

Afterwards manager Paul Grimley was disappointed at not having won the Cup but thought the benefits of the competition outweighed the disappointing final outcome. Paul also said that unlike last year all Armagh college players will be available to play for their college except against Armagh in the upcoming McKenna Cup. Last year we had a lot of injuries and were minus the Cross players, if I let the college players go it is Armagh who would not have been able to field a team

Armagh- Paudi Rodgers, Paul Hughes, Gary McCooey, Michael Murray, Ciaran McKeever, Charlie Vernon, Rory Grugan, Aaron Findon, Phelim O’Neill, Robbie Tasker (0-1), Stefan Campbell (0-1) Aiden Forker (0-2) , Kyle Carragher (1-2),  Ethan Rafferty (0-1 ), Stefan Forker (0-3) Subs-Jamie Clarke (1-1) for O Neill, Stephen Harold (0-1) for Findon, Mark Shields for  C.McKeever, Eugene McVerry (0-1) for S. Forker, Caolan Rafferty (0-2) for Grugan, Brian Mallon for Campbell, Niall Geoghegan for Rodgers, Ciaran Rafferty for Tasker, Kevin O’Rourke for Carragher, Oisin McKeever for A.Forker.

DERRY: Thomas Mallon, Oisin Duffy, Chrissy McKaigue,  Mickey McShane, Conor McAtamney,  Mark Craig (0-1), Sean Leo McGoldrick (0-1), Fergal Doherty (0-1), Mark Lynch (1-2), Ciaran McFaul, James Kielt (0-2), Enda Lynn (0-2), Anthony O’Neill, Emmett McGuckin, Aaron Kerrigan (0-1) Subs:  (who scored) Declan Mullan (1-1), Cailean O’Boyle (0-2), Benny Heron (0-2), Peter Cassidy (0-1), James Kearney (0-1)

Ref-Brendan Rice (Down).