Students fail to test Armagh
●Bank of Ireland Dr. McKenna Cup 2019 Armagh 6-17 St Mary’s 1-7
The ease with which Armagh won their opening section B of Bank of Ireland Dr. McKenna Cup match with St Mary’s can be gauged by the fact that their first score from a placed ball arrived on the 37th minute which made the score 5-13 to 0-3.
Armagh made one change to their selected side with Jason Duffy replacing corner-back Aaron McKay with St. Mary’s lining out as selected.
Ross McQullian who traded his midfield role with Jarlath Og Burns opened the scoring inside 30 seconds with Jarly Og adding point number two a minute later. On two minutes the Grugan brothers combined with Rory supplying Jack with the ball and he slotted home the opening goal. A minute Jamar Hall benefitted from a Jarly Og pass to open his account. Debutant Armagh goalkeeper Sean O’Hanlon made a smart diving save off a deflected shot at the expense of a ’45 which was sent wide by his opposite number Ben McKinless. Rory Grugan pointed to make it 1-5 to 0 with St. Mary’s midfielder Stephen McConville opening their account from a free immediately followed by their second point from the boot of Ryan Coleman from play.
In the next seventeen minutes Armagh tagged on 3-7 without reply to put the match outcome and the game as a contest to bed. Stefan Campbell off loaded to Jason Duffy to fist a goal to go with a point he had scored a minute earlier. Jarly Og added his second point before the returning Campbell was on the end of a five man move to slot home goal number 3. On twenty minutes half-back Connaire Mackin raised a white flag while Jamar Hall added his second point followed by his minor from Jack Grugan to go with a major score and Jack added his second point to leave it 3-11 to 0-2. A poor kick out by the St Mary’s goalkeeper, from the last point, saw Rory Grugan’s attempt at goal just drop over the crossbar.
Ryan McShane burst through the St Mary’s defence to blast home goal number four. Mary’s impressive half back Colm Byrne ended their 23 minute scoring drought with their first score from play.
Rian O’Neill replaced Jamar Hall just before the short whistle but the opening half action ended with a fifth Armagh goal as Duffy placed Jack Grugan who goaled to take his own tally to 2-2.
The surprisingly sparse crowd at Crossmaglen were treated to a first, in that all of Armagh’s 5-12 came from open play in that one sided opening half.
Armagh made 3 changes for the start of the second half with James Morgan replacing Ross McQuillan, Aidan Forker for Brendan Donaghy and Pearse Casey came in at mid-field for Niall Grimley.
Forker, with his first touch, raced through the St Mary’s defence for a quicker point than that scored at the start of the first half. Rian O’Neill pointed a free to break the Armagh scoring from play sequence.
With Armagh easing off and St Mary’s better organised defensively, the students enjoyed their best spell. Two McConville frees and one from Silverbridge’s Aaron Duffy doubled their score to 0-6. James Morgan breaking from defence pointed on 54 minutes which was the first Armagh point for fifteen minutes.
Joe McElroy replaced Jack Grugan with fifteen minutes remaining and five minutes later a speculative point attempt from Connaire Mackin was misjudged by the goalkeeper McKinless who parried the ball off the upright into the net for goal number six. Ryan Coleman saw his attempted goal come back off the Armagh upright as the students continued to graft very hard. Jason Duffy fielded for a forward mark which he duly pointed for Armagh’s last score.
The new experimental rules in play saw three occasions when the over use of the hand pass was penalised and with the game lacking any real bite or intensity the sin bin was never an issue.
With 3 minutes of added time to play St. Mary’s efforts were awarded as mid-fielder McConville grabbed his fourth point and first from play followed by a goal from Coleman to leave the final score 6-17 to 1-7.
Armagh have begun with an emphatic win, with their midfield and forward division in excellent form. Jarlath Og Burns and Niall Grimley lorded midfield, with all six starting forwards contributing 5-11 with some of their interplay very impressive. As the saying goes you can only beat what is in front of you.
Next up from Armagh is a January 6th visit to Corrigan Park to take on Antrim and then finish off their McKenna Cup campaign on Wednesday 9th January with an Althetic Grounds meeting with Monaghan.
Armagh team: Sean O’Hanlon, Jason Duffy (1-2), Ryan Kennedy, Ruairi McCaughey, Connaire Mackin (1-1), Gregory McCabe, Brendan Donaghy, Niall Grimley, Ross McQuillian (0-1), Ryan McShane (1-1), Jemar Hall (0-2), Rory Grugan (0-2), Jack Grugan(2-2), Jarlath Og Burns (0-2), Stefan Campbell (1-0). Armagh Subs: Rian O’Neill (0-1) for Hall, James Morgan (0-1) for McQuillian, Aidan Forker (0-2) for Donaghy, Pearse Casey for Grimley.
St Mary’s team: Ben McKinless, Conor McAllister; Caolan Dillon; Miceal Rooney; Colm Byrne (0-1), Ryan McAllister, Jack Hannigan, Stephen McConville (0-4_, Aaron Duffy (0-1), Aaron Boyle, Ryan Coleman (1-1), Tom O’Kane, Daniel McKinless, Niall Toner and Ryan McSherry. St Mary’s sub: Cahirs Goodwin for Tom Kane, Piaras McSorley for Duffy, Tiernan Sludden for Daniel McKinless, Gerard O’Neill for Ryan McSherry.