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Impressive start for Armagh

Allianz NFL Div 2   Armagh 2-18 Cavan 1-08

Armagh made an impressive start to their Allianz League Division Two campaign with a very convincing 2-18 to 1-8 Athletic Grounds win over Cavan.

Man of the Match Conor Turbitt continued his sensational scoring start to Senior inter-County football with 1-6 from corner-forward on his league debut .Indeed 1-13 from play (4 frees, a forward mark and a converted penalty makes up the rest) and 5 of the starting 6 forward on the scoresheet more than once would have been very pleasing for Armagh management and supporters.

Cavan manager Mickey Graham had named four debutants for the opening league encounter with Armagh Corner-back Paddy Meade (Kingscourt), centre-back Benjamin Kelly (Templeport), midfielder Evan Fortune (Cavan Gaels) and centre-forward Simon Cadden (Ramor United). But before the game started Graham made 3 late changes to his side with midfielder Evan Fortune, corner back Luke Fortune and half-forward Niall Murray being replaced by Bryan Magee, Gerard Smyth and Conor Smyth. Cavan started with just 6 of the side that won last year’s Ulster championship replay against Armagh

Aidan Forker comes under pressure from Cavan’s Ciaran Brady

 Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney started his names 15 which had only Blaine Hughes, Paddy Burns, Niall Grimley, Aidan Forker and Rian O’Neill on board from the starting 15 last June in that championship replay defeat to Cavan, Conor O’Neill (Killeavy), Callum Cumiskey (Crossmaglen Rangers), Jason Duffy (St Pat’s, Cullyhanna) and Conor Turbitt (Clann Eireann) were handed league debuts in a much changed Armagh defensive and offensive formation.

 With a strong wind in their favor Armagh raced into a 3-1 lead inside 5 minutes following a hat-trick of points from Turbitt. The game’s opening score, a forward mark following a superb piece of high fielding from the young Clann Eireann player was cancelled immediately by a Breffni point from Bryan Magee and their second arrived on 8 minutes from the boot of half-back Oisin Kiernan. Armagh then stretched their lead to 6 points with 5 unanswered points in a 10-minute spell with Oisin O’Neill, Aidan Forker, Niall Grimley, Stefan Campbell and a Rory Grugan free with veteran Brendan Donaghy denying Cavan a goal in between those flurry of scores. A 21st minute third point from the visitors through Conor Madden was followed by one from substitute Conor Smith to double their tally but a very good point from play by Grugan left 1t 9-4 going into the final 10 minutes of the half. Cavan then picked up the first of 4 different black cards dished out to an undisciplined Cavan (who had to play at one stage in the second half with 13 men) but Armagh failed to capitalize on the numerical advantage to the short whistle recording a second Oisin O’Neill point negated by a pointed Cavan free leaving it double scores 0-10 to 0-5 at half-time.

Armagh’s Conor Turbitt celebrates his goal

Armagh had a tonic start to the second half as Turbitt took full advantage of Cavan unable to deal with a high ball into the square and when the ball broke, he slotted it to the net to stretch the lead to 8 points. Great work by Grugan in keeping the ball in play was rewarded as his offload to Oisin O’Neill saw him land his third point of the evening quickly followed by a first from his brother Rian courtesy of a free. Soupy then fisted over a point replied to by McKiernan for Cavan but immediately followed by converted frees from Rian O’Neill and Grugan to leave the score 1-15 to 0-6. Turbitt and Murray had traded points when a push in the back on Armagh substitute resulted in referee Barry Cassidy awarding a penalty. Campbell coolly found the net from the spot to confirm the inevitable opening win for Armagh. 

A high ball in around the Armagh goal was not dealt with by goalkeeper Hughes and in the scramble that followed the ball was bundled over the line for a Cavan consolation goal. Top man Turbitt finished like he started by scoring the last two points for the home side as Hughes mad a great foot block to deny the visitors their second green flag. The match ended with Armagh cruising to a 13-point win which was not on anyone’s radar before the throw-in. There will certainly be tougher assignments ahead in the coming weeks but credit when credit is due on any given day in football you can only beat what is in front of you, a feat Armagh achieved with some panache, style with some quality football with their high scoring ratio continuing.

Armagh – Blaine Hughes, Paddy Burns, Greg McCabe, Conor O’Neill, Callum Cumiskey, Brendan Donaghy, Aidan Forker (0-01), Niall Grimley (0-01), Stephen Sheridan, Jason Duffy, Rory Grugan (0-3, 0-2 frees), Oisin O’Neill (0-03), Conor Turbitt (1-06, 0-1 forward mark), Rian O’Neill (0-02, 2 frees), Stefan Campbell (1-02). Subs: Mark Shields for Duffy (48), Joe McElroy for Forker (58), Jarly Og Burns for P Burns (61), James Morgan for Cumiskey (65), Jemar Hall for R O’Neill (65).

Cavan – Raymond Galligan, Paddy Meade, Padraig Faulkner, Gerard Smith, Ciaran Brady, Benjamin Kelly, Oisin Kiernan (0-02, 0-1 free),  , Killian Brady, Bryan Magee (0-01, free), Stephen Smith, Simon Cadden, Conor Smith, Martin Reilly, Gearoid McKiernan (0-02, 2 frees), Conor Madden (0-03). Subs: Evan Doughty for Madden (31’), Oisin Pierson for C Smith (31’), James Smith (1-0) for Magee (49’), Chris Conwau for M Reilly (57’).

Armagh’s Conor O Neill drives forward with the ball

Referee – B Cassidy


Next up for Armagh is a trip away to Laois on Saturday night. Supports should note that the game at MW Hire O’Moore Park, Portlaois has a throw-in time of 6pm. Portlaois has over the years has provided Armagh supporters with a rather hostile atmosphere but results on the pitch have been on a more than even keel. Laois will be keen to build on a terrific point gained away to Roscommon in a high scoring 2-14 apiece draw with a last gasp Kieran Lillis goal getting the Queen’s County a share of the points with Roscommon. Elsewhere in Division Two Westmeath edged Clare by a point 2-9 to 1-11 with a 75th. minute John Heslin winning point. Kildare recorded a 2-12 to 0-14 home win over Fermanagh.