Indiscipline proves costly
● Dr. McKenna Cup Armagh 1-10 Tyrone 1-12
The managerial debut of the counties All-Ireland winning Captain Kieran McGeeney on home soil pitted against Tyrone who have in modern times taken over from Down as the arch enemy was always going to prove to be an attraction for supporters. Throw-in the exceptionally mild Sunday weather for the time of year and the armchair supporters made a late dash for the turnstiles causing chaos and a delayed start of a half hour.
It did not take long 8 minutes into the game before the crown of 8,463 were treated to a bit of what some might have come for, a melee, which saw instigators Aaron Findon and Sean Cavanagh pick up yellows as replacement referee Noel Mooney stamped his authority on proceedings by following up those yellows with 2 straight reds for Armagh Captain Ciaran McKeever and Tyrone midfielder Colm Cavanagh. Indeed the Cavan official needed plenty of lead in his pencil to keep count of a further 2 reds, a black and 14 yellow cards in what was a tough but not overly dirty very entertaining encounter which was won by the visitors through 5 unanswered points inside the last 10 minutes of the game when Tyrone held a numerical advantage of 14 v 12.
Sean Cavanagh drew first blood with a pointed free for Tyrone. Grange debutant Micheal McKenna who looks a real find for the county fleeting saw the glimpse of a dream start goal as the ball came back off the upright wisely put the ball over the bar to open his Senior account. McKenna was a constant thorn in the Tyrone defence all through and was easily Armagh’s man of the match finishing with an impressive 0-3 to his credit. Gavin McParland marked his return to the senior squad with a pointed free and a lead which Armagh held onto until Tyrone’s second half goal. Then the melee came and finished with a levelling free from Cavanagh. Forkhill debutant Stephen Sheridan who came in from the start in place of Brendan Donaghy but began at full forward fielded a long delivery before being fouled enabling Eugene McVerry put Armagh back in front. The one man scoring show for Tyrone continued as Cavanagh levelled from play soon followed by a black card for centre-back Ryan McKenna who was replaced by Dwyane Quinn.
Armagh hit 3 unanswered points as Ethan Rafferty (free), McVerry and McKenna both play stretched the lead to 6-3 which was sustained by a super save by Armagh keeper Niall Geoghegan to deny McNulty a goal at the expense of a “45” which was converted by Darren McCurry. Armagh swept downfield and Mark Shields was denied a goal by keeper Morgan. A pointed Cavanagh free ended the first half scoring which left Armagh 6-5 ahead as the wide count stood 7-1 to Tyrone.
Armagh introduced Crossmaglen Rangers duo Jamie Clarke and Tony Kernan for the second half in place of McParland and Rafferty. Clarke took up an unusual deep role in the half back line as Kernan went into the attack.
The first real action of the re-start was a yellow card for Finnian Moriarty which would have more major repercussions as his second followed within minutes which left Armagh with an uphill battle. Tony Kernan placed Forker with a good ball and he doubled the lead after 4 minutes. Cavanagh pointed the Moriarty second yellow to cut the deficit to the minimum as Armagh brought in Declan McKenna for Sheridan and then had to replace injured goalkeeper Geoghean with Mark McNeice from Annaghmore. Impressive McKenna continued to please the home support by notching his third point to make it 8-6. McCurry with a free cut the lead to the minimum before the Rangers substitutes combined for Tony to make it 0-9 to 0-7. Cavanagh broke through the middle of the home defence delivered the ball to Aidan McCrory who left McNeice helpless as he plundered the game’s first goal and a point lead for Tyrone1-10 to 0-9. Armagh were level instantly through a pointed free from McVerry and then stunned the visitors with the next score a well worked goal as Clarke offloaded to McConville with the Peter’s man showing great vision to loft the ball over the heads of 3 defenders into the path of McVerry who finished the ball to the net with great aplomb. A green flag 1-10 to 1-7 between the teams with 10 minutes to go, all to play for but alas the McVerry goal was to be the last Orchard score of the game. With 6 minutes left the sides were level as McCurry from a free followed by another from play from the resulting kick-out and Peter Hughes from play had pointed for the Red Hands whose chances of victory increased further when Aaron Findon on thin ice all day having received the opening yellow picked up his second and a dismissal. Substitute Cathal McShane lofted high between the uprights to put Tyrone ahead with McCurry from a placed ball completing the scoring. Armagh will know that this is one that got away from them because of their indiscipline which will have to be improved upon for the upcoming league. The irony of the indiscipline is that it was all experienced campaigners who fell foul of the rules with all the positives from the game coming from all the debutants who can be well pleased with their first outing. Next up for Armagh are Antrim in Creggan next Sunday @ 2pm.. The Saffrons were 1-7 to 0-9 victors over St Mary’s who are visitors to the Athletic Grounds on Wed Jan 14 @ 7-30.
Armagh:Niall Geoghegan (Middetown), Mark McConville (Harps), Stephen Sheridan (Forkhill), Michael Murray (St Patrick’s), Mark Shields (Whitecross), Ciaran McKeever (Parnells), Finnian Moriarty (Wolfe Tones), Aaron Findon (St Peter’s), Stefan Campbell (Clan na Gael), Stefan Forker (Maghery) 0-1, Micheal McKenna (Grange) 0-3, Eugene McVerry (Mullaghbawn) 1-3, Niall McConville (St Peter’s), Ethan Rafferty(Grange) 0-1, Gavin McParland (Ballymacnab) 0-1 Subs: Jamie Clarke (Crossmaglen Rangers) for McParland, Tony Kernan (Crossmaglen Rangers) 0-1 for Rafferty, Declan McKenna (Harps) for Sheridan, Mark McNeice (Annaghmore ) for Geoghegan, Feidhlim O Neill (St Paul’s) for McConville.
Tyrone: Niall Morgan (Edendork); Aidan McCrory (Errigal Ciaran) 1-0, Ronan McNamee (Aghyaran), Cathal McCarron (Dromore); Tiernan McCann (Killyclogher), Ryan McKenna (Eglish), Peter Harte (Errigal Ciaran); Colm Cavanagh (Moy), Padraig McNulty (Dungannon); Emmett McKenna (Eglish), Kyle Coney (Ardboe), Peter Hughes (Eskra) 0-1; Darren McCurry (Edendork) 0-5, Sean Cavanagh (Moy) 0-5, Shea McGuigan (Ardboe).Subs: Dwayne Quinn (Clonoe) for McKenna Black card, Cathal McShane (Owen Roes) 0-1 for McKenna, Mark Donnelly (Carrickmore) for McNulty, Niall McKenna (Donaghmore) for Harte