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Orchard raid Mournemen

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Orchard raid Mournemen thumbnailDOWN'S disappointment as neighbouring Armagh end their Ulster championship hopes.

ARMAGH hurling manager Sylvester McConnell has urged the Ulster GAA Council to have a rethink on staging the Ulster Hurling Final this Easter Sunday.

Armagh ...1-17
Down ...2-12

McConnell was speaking after his side beat Down in the Ulster semi-final in Inniskeen on Saturday.

The game was delayed by ten minutes after the Down team bus got stuck under a bridge en route to the pitch but matters worsened as the Mourne hurlers were down to 14 men after Caolan Baile was red carded on 25 minutes.

Still despite playing over half the game with 14 men Down weren't that far away and heading into the last ten minutes looked the side most likely to progress. But Armagh found a second wind and with Cathal Carvill staring up front and David Carvill taking frees the Orchard men delivered a late, late knockout blow.

Newry Shamrocks' Eion McGuinness missed the game through injury but Camlough's Fiachra Bradley made his welcome return in the orange jersey and he put in tremendous performance, which impressed the Armagh boss.

“We've struggled a wee bit with injuries and we've had to move players about; the higher league has probably hurt our panel a lot. The newer lads that have come in, it's just taken them a wee fraction to adapt," said McConnell.

“Fiachra Bradley's back there today, that's his first game and he's played out of his skin. That shows the rehab he's done from a broken hand. Conor Devlin's only back from injury as well, that's two lads we had to start in midfield and that was his first full game.

“The subs that came on, everyone played their part. Odhran Curry's been tied with exams so it's been tough but the lads all stood there, we knew we were in the game right to the end. We were very, very happy."

Newry Shamrocks' Paul Sheehan had an impressive game for Down and was unlucky to be the player to give way for Gareth 'Magic' Johnston to come on in the second half.

Two stunning goals from Down's Malachy Magee put the Mournemen in the driving seat and they led 2-5 to 0-7. Baile's dismissal for hitting Cathal Carville in the stomach turned the tide in Armagh's favour.

A goal from Armagh's Dylan McKenna levelled the tie on 48 minutes but Down fought back with some exceptional long range points from Michael Ennis and Chris Egan and the lead switched hands on a number of occasions to set up a thrilling finale.

Armagh captain Cathal Carvill moved up to full-forward and he swung over two points along with another from McKenna to level the score on 70 minutes. But with three minutes additional time announced David Carvill popped over two frees to secure victory for a jubilant Armagh.

Down assistant manager Gary Savage was bitterly disappointed.

“It's hard to take to tell you the truth," said Savage.

“We were three points up with five minutes to go and we were a man down. We thought we had done enough, but maybe a bit of tiredness in the end or whatever.

“Armagh won a lot of breaking ball in the end which opened us up. Maybe the legs got the better of us in the end. They were playing a two man full forward line and we couldn't really afford to drop a man back as we were trying to win the match."

McConnell on the otherhand was bursting with pride.

“Look, there's great spirit in this team, they're something special, they're a great bunch of lads, they train very hard, there's an honesty about them," said McConnell.

“People talk about Armagh being physical - we played a very manly game there today, but there was no physicality from us. There's a lot of hurling in Armagh, and that was a good game to watch. That was a lift for Ulster hurling. We're very proud of the boys."

With a relegation/promotion play-off against Donegal in a fortnight McConnell hopes that the Ulster Final won't be forced to take place on Easter Sunday, expected to be in Newry's Pairc Esler.

“We will probably have to speak to the Ulster Council about this but we will not be looking the Ulster Final this week and nor will Antrim. They play Carlow and we play Donegal," said the Armagh manager.

“Donegal is a very tricky game for us and are we going to degrade the Ulster Championship by us putting out a dummy team and Antrim putting out a dummy team, or do we look about a refixture?"

ARMAGH: S Doherty; C Clifford, N Curry, D Bridges; J Corvan (0-1), A McGuinness, T Nevin; C Carvill (0-4), C Devlin (0-1); D Carvill (0-6, frees), F Bradley (0-1), C Corvan (0-1); D Magee, C Gorman, D McKenna (1-3). Subs: P Gaffney for A McGuinness (HT), O Curry for D Bridges (43), S Keenan for C Gorman (55), P McKearney for D Magee (59), D Gaffney for C Devlin (67).

Yellow cards: D Bridges (36), D McKenna (37), C Clifford (54).

DOWN: S Keith; J McManus, M Hughes, S Ennis; C Egan (0-1), C Woods, M Ennis (0-1); A Bell, D McManus; C Mageean (0-1), M Magee (2-1), C Bailie; C O'Prey (0-4, 0-3 frees), P Sheehan (0-3 frees), S Nicholson (0-1). Subs: G Johnson for P Sheehan (50).

Yellow cards: M Ennis (6), C Bailie (9), A Bell (71), S Ennis (73).

Red card: C Bailie (25).

Referee: C Cunning (Antrim).

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