Can it be third time lucky for Armagh?
● Nicky Rackard Cup – Armagh v Derry Sat 10th June Croke Park @ 3pm
Armagh are back in Croke Park for the third year in a row in the Nicky Rackard Cup final next Saturday playing Derry, hoping that it will be a case of third time lucky in the competition for them. In the 2015 decider the Armagh lost by a single point 1-14 to 2-12 to Roscommon and a year late it was Mayo who triumphed 2-16 to 1-15. Armagh also lost the third ever Rackard Cup in 2007 as Roscommon beat them 1-12 to 0-13.
The Orchard County have two previous successes in the Rackard Cup defeating London 3-15 to 3-14 in a cracking 2010 final. In 2012 Armagh secured their second success with a 3-20 to 1-15 victory over Louth. Opponents Derry are playing in their second final with a 5-15 to 1-11 win over Donegal in 2006 getting their name on the Cup
The 2017 campaign got off to a losing start for Armagh as they were beaten by Donegal 1-19 to 0-13 but bounced back with a 0-23 to 2-9 win over Louth. Successive victories for Derry 2-17 to 1-12 over Louth followed by an 8-21 to 1-14 hammering of Longford secured them a semi-final berth. To reach the same stage Armagh had to defeat Longford, which they did 4-20 to 0-12.
Both finalists experienced little difficulty in reaching the decider as Armagh accounted for Tyrone 2-25 to 1-11 and Derry overcame Monaghan 6-17 to 1-12. Rival managers Sylvester McConnell of Armagh and Collie McGurk (An All-Ireland football medal winner with the county) were both keen to pass the mantel of favourite onto the opposition but deep down they will both fancy their charges to claim the glory. Derry have been very prolific at finding the net as they accumulated 16 goals in their 3 games played in comparison to 6 green flags to Armagh for the 4 games played.
With 20 points plus scored in three of their games it is the reason that David Carvill of Armagh with 2-34 to his credit is the top marksman to date in the competition. Conor Corvan with 2-13 is second to David on the Armagh scoresheet as Alan Grant with 4-9 and Brian Cassidy 3-5 being the leading scorers for Derry.
Armagh net minder Simon Doherty will have to keep his defenders Ciaran Clifford, Artie McGuinness, John Corvan, Paul Gaffney and Odhran Curry on their toes throughout to cut out the goalgetting Derry forwards Grant, Cassidy along with the recently returned Brendan Rogers and Chrissy McKaigue along with Cuala brothers Cian and Naoise Waldron who transferred to Derry at the start of the year.
If Armagh are to win on Saturday they will need Fiachra Bradley, Nathan Curry, Cahal Carvill, Dylan McKenna, Ryan Gaffney and Danny Magee to chip in with scores to allieviate to pressure on the top two David Carvill and Conor Corvan if the Orchard County are to avoid a third defeat on the trot.
Given the scoring returns for both teams thus far, it is fair to say that a high scoring encounter is widely anticipated in this middle match of a triple header at Croker with the Meagher, Rackard and Ring Cups all being played for.