Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Armagh pass stern student test

● Doctor McKenna Cup Section C: Armagh 2-11 St Mary’s 0-14

Armagh had to dig deep late on to see off the determined challenge of St Mary’s at a wind and rain swept Athletic Grounds on Wednesday night. No delayed start for overcrowding with this one, as about a thousand souls braved the horrendous weather that prevailed throughout the game which, under the terrible conditions, was a credit to both teams. Armagh went into the game hoping for a substantial win to boost their scoring stats but were thankful in the end for their 2-11 to 0-14 victory.

Man of the Match, Gavin McParland dispatched a first half penalty to the net following a foul on impressive debutant Sean Connell and added four points with skipper Ciaran McKeever notching the last point of the half for Armagh. The Johnson brothers Ryan and Jerome, our own Aidan Forker (0-1) and Jack Grugan (0-2) together with Tyrone’s Thomas  Canavan  had helped St Mary’s to lead 7-2 before McParland’s penalty drew parity on 26 minutes. Another scoring burst from the wind assisted students helped them lead 1-5 to 0-11 at the short whistle.

Given the dreadful playing conditions the interval break was a bit longer than usual and it was the visitors who continued where they had left off as Johnston and Canavan both pointed to stretch their lead back to 5 points for the second time. Manager Kieran McGeeney added the firepower of Jamie Clarke and Eugene McVerry to his forward line along with attacking defender Michael Murray. The changes had an immediate effect as Armagh dominated to the extent that St Mary’s scored a point at the death in the last minute which was their only score for a half hour as they were outscored 1-6 to 0-1.

A Tony Kernan free got Armagh off the mark for the second half, a McVerry point was sandwiched between two from play from Clarke, goalkeeper Burns saved from Kernan but was helpless a few minutes later as Clarke raced through offloaded to McParland who dispatched to the net for a 2-9 to 1-9 lead. Points from Decky McKenna and Connell followed as home goalkeeper Tim Harney kept out a Grugan goal effort that would have taken the gloss off his club mates match winning efforts.

Armagh are using the McKenna Cup for what it is there for to try out new blood before the League gets under way at the end of the month. With 28 different players used not counting the Armagh players in action for the colleges, manager McGeeney has an early selection headache ahead of him in having to name a National League squad for the upcoming Division Three campaign.

Armagh – T Harney; E McArdle, B Donaghy, J Donnelly; S Connell (0-1), C McKeever (0-1), C Vernon; D McKenna (0-1), S Harold; S Forker, T Kernan (0-1), F O’Neill; O MacIomhair, S Sheridan, G McParland (2-4). Subs: P Courtney for F O’Neill, M Murray for J Donnelly, E McVerry (0-1) for O MacIomhair, J Clarke (0-2) for S Forker, C Rafferty for G McParland.

St Mary’s – R Burns; R Wilson, J Morgan, D Morrow; P McBride, A Forker (0-1), H Loughran; C McCann, B Og McGilligan; J Johnston (0-3), K McGeary (0-1), R Johnston (0-2); T Canavan (0-5), M Fitzpatrick, J Grugan (0-2). Subs: B O’Hagan for M Fitzpatrick, C Quinn for C McCann.

Referee – C Trainor.