Second big win put Armagh in control

January 7, 2019

 ● Bank of Ireland Dr. McKenna Cup 2019 Section B Antrim 1-10 Armagh 2-21

A second big win for Armagh has left them in control of their own destiny as far as progress to the semi-finals of the Bank of Ireland Dr. McKenna Cup. Armagh are top of the table with 4 points and a huge plus scoring difference as they take on Monaghan on Wednesday night @8pm in the Athletic Grounds in their last match in Section B of the competition.

Monaghan, surprisingly were held to a draw1-14 to 0-17 at home by St Mary’s who had been hammered 6-17 to 1-7 by Armagh in Crossmaglen. The Farney men had beaten Antrim 1-20 to 1-12 and know that a win against Armagh is a must to reach the last 4. The Orchard County have 3 possible chances to reach the last 4, a win or a draw will see them top the group whilst a narrow defeat so be still good enough to see them pick up the best losers semi-final berth.

One thing for sure the clash of Armagh and Monaghan will now be a lot more lively and competitive than the two previous Armagh outings which failed to be a real test for free scoring Armagh. With a tough Division Two National Football League campaign, a couple or even 3 more tough McKenna Cup matches would be ideal preparation for the upcoming league campaign.

Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney made 5 changes to the team which started against St Mary’s with goalkeeper Blaine Hughes, defenders James Morgan and Mark Shields, midfielder Stephen Sheridan and forward Jamie Clarke on as replacements for Greg McCabe, Ruairi McCaughey, Ross McQuillan, Niall Grimley and Jason Duffy.

Despite Antrim opening the scoring at Glenavy this game akin to the one in Cross, it was over as a contest when the short whistle sounded as Armagh led by 16 points 2-12 to 0-2 . Patrick McBride put Antrim ahead inside the first few seconds but it would be another 28 minutes before the same player pointed a free to complete his teams tally for the half.

Armaghs Jamie Clarke pulls the trigger as Antrims Andrew Sweeney closes

A brace of points from Ryan McShane had Armagh ahead and there was no looking back as team Captain Rory Grugan opened his account with a minor as did defender Aidan Forker. On 10 minutes Harps man McShane plucked the right cord as he fired home the games first goal and 2 minutes later the returned to the county colours was complete as Jamie Clarke slotted home a penalty kick for a 2-4 to 0-1 lead. Corner-back Connaire Mackin flew down the Gleanavy slope to get his name on the scoresheet followed by a second from Forker, Stefan Campbell got in on the scoring act with two points on the trot before McBride briefly interrupted the Armagh scoring rhythm with his second Antrim point. The visitors were not done scoring yet as the clock ticked past the half hour points were added by Jack Grugan, two more from Campbell, one a free, with Mark Shields closing the scoring which read 2-12 to 0-2 at the interval.

Armaghs Jemar Hall drives forward

Connaire Mackin opened the second half scoring on 2 minutes before Collin Duffin converted an offensive mark and a point from play by Neil Delargy doubled the hosts score to 0-4. Campbell and McBride traded points before Armagh hit four without reply through Grugan, Campbell and substitutes Niall Grimlrey and Aidan Nugent. Delargy’s second point of the half was replied to by Campbell as Armagh led 2-19 to 0-6 with 7 minutes left on the clock. Antrim’s Kevin Quinn, from play and a McBride pointed free took the hosts to 0-8. Indeed four more pointed frees were to follow as McBride’s brace were sandwiched in between by replies by Armagh’s Grugan and Campbell. In the fourth minute of added-on time Meghan McCabe completed the scoring with a consolation goal for Antrim which left the final score 2-21 to 1-10.

Jamie Clarke back in action for Armagh

Armagh scorers- Stefan Campbell,(0-8),Ryan McShane (1-2),Jamie Clarke (1-0), Rory Grugan (0-3), Connaire Mackin (0-2), Auden Forker (0-2) ,Mark Shields (0-1), Jack Grugan (0-1), Niall Grimley (0-1), Aidan Nugent (0-1) Antrim scorers-Patrick McBride (0-6), Meghan McCabe (1-0), Neil Delargy (0-2), Colin Duffin (0-1), Kevin Quinn (0-1) 

With the winner of Marmara’s Section B due to meet the winner of Section A next Sunday Jan 13 the situation going into Wednesday night’s fixtures is that the winner of the Donegal v Cavan in Done gal will win the Section as both have recorded 2 wins each. Donegal beat Queen’s 0-21 to 0-11 and Down 1-17 to 0-10 whilst Cavan beat Queen’s 0-17 to 0-3 and Down 0-13 to 1-9 which means that a draw will be good enough for Donegal to top Section A.

Armagh’s James Morgan wins the ball in front of Antrims Eoghan McCabe

Tyrone with wins over Derry 0-20 to 0-11 and 2-14 to 1-9 against UU they have already qualified as Section C winners before they play Fermanagh at home on Wednesday night as the Ernemen have only one point from a 1-9 to 0-12 draw with UU and a 3-9 to 2-8 loss to Derry. The best losing qualifier will play Tyrone in the semi-final next Sunday.