Danske Bank MacCormack Cup semi-final
St Patrick’s Armagh 1-13 St Patrick’s Maghera 0-9
LAST night’s Danske Bank MacCormack Cup semi-final in MUSA will have no direct impact on the latter stages of the MacRory Cup, but the St Patrick’s Armagh management will have been mighty pleased with the work-rate of their team, who now have to be considered as strong contenders for mid March glory.
However one of the Armagh management team, Mark Harte, tried to play down the significance of the seven points’ win.
“We won nothing more than a MaCormack Cup semi-final tonight and no-one will remember much about it unless we are pushing on from it.
“Yes, we were really pleased with the performance tonight. We turned over a lot of ball and then moved the ball quickly so that we had a chance for scores.
“We were pretty hard working all over the field, especially defensively. Yes, a good night for us.”
However the Errigal Ciaran clubman still feels that opponents St Patrick’s Maghera will be a force in the main competition which starts at the end of the month.
“Maghera will be a big player still in the MacRory. Tonight we got the penalty early and kept that goal distance between us. They missed a good few scores in the first half especially. But they have serious potential”
The penalty mentioned came after nine minutes with the excellent Michael Conroy hauled down and Justin Kieran converting. Within the next 90 seconds Conroy kicked and punched points to put Armagh into a 1-3 to 0-2 lead and they were well on their way to victory.
Conroy and Kieran, alternatively playing on Maghera’s 13 metre line, provided an excellent target for Arrmagh’s hard working half backs, midfield and half forwards who played deep to turn over a lot of ball.
By contrast Maghera had a lot of possession in the first half, but couldn’t find the openings and hit some poor wides.
By my tally, Conroy was involved in all but two of his side’s scores, accumulating seven points on his own – and some of those were sublime, while Kieran may have blotted his book with a few dropping into the goalie’s arms, but he still slotted 1-3.
Maghera looked the better team during the opening half, but Armagh snapped up possession and used it more effectively. Still points from Conleth McShane, James McGurk and Fintan Bradley reeled in that early Armagh surge so that the teams sat at 1-3 to 0-5 after 20 minutes.
But Armagh hit back with scores from Conroy, Conor Laverty and Kierans to turn over with a 1-6 to 0-6 lead.
Even an injury to powerful midfielder Mícheál McGleenan on the re-start didn’t derail the men from Cathedral Hill and Conroy and Lorcan Coulter popped over the first two scores of the second half.
Maghera had to work hard for their scores and they had the difference back to a goal when Enda Downey had to take a point when the final pass of a defence splitting move fell just behind him in the 47th minute.
That was Maghera’s last score however and Michael Conroy finished them off with three of the last four points.
Armagh : J Gibney, O Guy, O McKeagney, A Harney, C Murray, C Toner, N Boyle, M McGleenan, C Laverty (0-2), D Horsfield, M Conroy (0-7, 0-2 frees), T Weir, S Quigley, J Kierans (1-3, 1-0 pen), L Coulter (0-1).
Subs : C Power for M McGleenan (32), L Camara for L Coulter (43), O McGurgan for S Quigley (58)
Maghera : C Convery, R McFaul, C Milne, P McLaughlin, J McGurk (0-1), C McShane (0-2), S Murray, F Bradley (0-2), T McHugh, E Doherty, E Downey (0-2, 0-1 free), D McLaughlin, C McGuckin, P Shivers (0-1), E Hawe
Subs : E Mulholland (0-1) for S Murray (ht), O Downey for P McLaughlin (40), PJ McAleese for J McGurk (46), S Kearney for E Hawe (53), C Glass for P Shivers (56)
Referee : Paul Falloon (Down)
Photograph from Mark Richards shows Michael Conory in possession with Conleth McGuckin and Pádraig McLaughlin in attendance