Bumpy start to Orchard journey
Tuesday, 15 January 2013
Armagh 1-11 Cavan 3-09.
ARMAGH manager Paul Grimley wasn't the slightest bit concerned about losing to Cavan in the Dr McKenna Cup but insisted he took plenty of positives from the game.
Before throw-in, at the Athletic Grounds on Saturday, it was announced that Ciaran McKeever would remain as captain for this season with Crossmaglen's Aaron Kernan vice-captain, and indeed the Crossmaglen contingent were out in force with their county team-mates, even though they don't expect to be wearing the orange jersey until March.
Grimley gave senior debuts to Killeavy's James Donnelly, Niall McConville of St Peter's, Carrickcruppen's Declan Carville and Stephen Harold and Ethan Rafferty of Grange and all are worthy of another look, with the Armagh boss insisting the lively Carville will get some more game-time against Down on Wednesday night.
Donnelly, Eugene McVerry, Gavin McParland, Niall McConville, Niall Rowland and Declan McKenna are all graduates from the 2009 All-Ireland winning Minor team and it is with players like these along with Crossmaglen's Jamie Clarke, Paul McKeown, James Morgan and more experienced players such as Ciaran McKeever, Aaron and Tony Kernan that Grimley hopes to build a winning formula.
And while few pieces of that jigsaw were pieced together on Saturday nights there was plenty to be positive about.
Donnelly is a player that can break into the starting 15, with Stefan Forker an outstanding prospect along with McParland and McVerry. Declan Carville won a number of frees but after a nervy debut on Saturday he will be keen and has the ability to impress in Pairc Esler on Wednesday against rivals Down.
Cavan got off to a great start with Thomas Corr banging in a goal after sloppy defending,
Niall McConville grabbed Armagh's first competitive point of 2013 before Stefan Forker got off the mark.
But just as the Orchard side were starting to find their feet they were struck with another goal, this time from the nippy Martin Dunne, after poor defending again, something the Armagh boss touched on.
“Obviously the goals were human error. I spoke to the referee about the first one as he stopped the play and I thought he was going to book somebody and they took the quick free. But I am not complaining, these things happen," said Grimley.
“As I said, they were basic errors, and something you would tend to expect at this time of year, due to lack of matches. But as the year goes on I will be a bit harsher on them for making those sorts of errors."
Armagh pulled back a goal through a neat finish from young McParland after Ciaran McKeever thread through a neat pass.
Indeed McKeever ventured forward at will and his measured passing helped Armagh advance. Forker tagged on his fourth point before the break but Cavan still led by a goal.
Half-time: Armagh 1-05 Cavan 2-05.
The second half started brightly with both sides trading scores, with Cavan's Gearoid McKiernan striking over some beauties and then that man Martin Dunne bagged his second goal, giving the Orchard County a mountain to climb.
Still the Armagh young guns battled on with substitute Brian Mallon, Stefan Forker, and McVerry all finding the target but Cavan couldn't be caught.
It is early days for this Armagh side. There are more players to come into the squad but the road doesn't have to be as long as Grimley makes out.
ARMAGH: Niall Geoghan, Ciaran McKeever, James Donnelly, Finnian Moriarty, Niall Rowland, Aidan Forker, Mark Shields, Stephen Harold (0-1), Kieran Toner, Gavin McParland (1-0), Niall McConville (0-1), Ethan Rafferty, Declan Carville, Stefan Forker (0-5, 3 frees and Eugene McVerry (0-1). Subs used: Anto Duffy for Rowland 23', Caolan Rafferty for Carville 28', Brian Mallon (0-1) for McConville 48', Declan McKenna for A Forker 58' and Stefan Campbell for Mallon 65'.
CAVAN: James Reilly, Oisin Minagh, Killian Brady, Damien Barkey, Padraig Reilly, Alan Clarke, John McCutcheon, Tomas Corr (1-0), Gearoid McKernan (0-4), Damien O'Reilly (0-1), Declan McKiernan, Mark McKeever, Cian Mackey, Martin Dunne (2-2, 2 frees) and Niall McDermott (0-2, 2 frees).
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