Orchard buds finish strong
Tuesday, 27 May 2014
Armagh 1-13. Cavan 0-06.
ARMAGH Minors became the first Orchard side at Minor, U21 or Senior level to win an Ulster Championship match since 2011 after a tremendous performance against Cavan in Clones.
Played on Sunday night in horrendous wet conditions Armagh were slow to get into the game but they grew in stature to produce an entertaining and mature performance.
It was magnificent, intelligent team performance with Belleeks' famous boxer Feargus Quinn and Crossmaglen's tenacious full-back Aidan Rushe defending brilliantly, displaying bravery and composure. Jarlath Og Burns is a midfielder with a bright future. Great in the air and a player with vision he and Crossmaglen's Oisin O'Neill can make a formidable midfield partnership in the future. Substitute Conor Cullen made an immediate impact in the second half as he added speed, craft and accuracy as the Orchard lads outscored their opponents by 1-8 in the second half. Manager Paul Doyle was understandably delighted with the result.
“Conditions were bad for both sides but those lads put in an absolutely amazing performance," said Doyle.
“I can't praise them enough as there are some great footballers in Armagh but they are just coming through.
“There are a lot of leaders there, a lot of intelligent lads that will drive the other lads on. We said to them that they need to play better. And they did play better; conditions were terrible out there and they still gave an exhibition of football."
Armagh were happy to be level at the break as Cavan perhaps should have been in front having kicked six wides.
Conditions made fancy football a distant notion and it took the Armagh players longer to adapt as the Blues took the lead through a Conor Bradley point in the opening minute and they would have been further in front only Armagh keeper Ryan Kearney brilliantly denied Brian Sheanon from point-blank.
Crossmaglen's 17-year-old Oisin O'Neill got Armagh off the mark with a fine score before Cavan knocked over a brace of points from David Brady and the unmarked Brian Magee.
Dromintee's Ryan Hughes pulled back a point after an excellent fetch from Jarlath Og Burns but Cavan replied with another brace of points from Caiomhin O'Reilly and substitute Darren Gannon. But Armagh finished the half strongly with three unanswered points in the last 10 minutes of the half. Hughes snatched over a point again after Silverbridge's Burns won possession in the middle and O'Neill landed two fine points, the second a wonderful 35-metre strike.
And Armagh could have stretched their lead had Jack Rafferty hit the target instead of flashing his shot across the face of the goal. But they were content to finish the half on level terms.
Half-time: Armagh 0-05 Cavan 0-05
The Orchard lads kicked two shots wide before substitute Conor Cullen gave Armagh the lead for the first time with a converted free, with his first touch. Killeavy's Caolan McConville tagged on a point after making 30 metre run, then stopping to ride a challenge and running a further 10-metres before shooting. O'Neill rose to make a magnificent catch which led to Cullen rounding his marker before pointing and the lively Annaghmore forward converted a his second free to give Armagh a 0-09 to 0-05 lead with 43 minutes played. O'Neill sent the Armagh score into double figures with a beautiful 40-metre point before Cullyhanna's Shane Conlon blasted high and over.
And the Orchard men got a rub of the green when they were awarded a penalty, when they could have been blown up for square ball and substitute Cullen made no mistake with a textbook spot-kick into the bottom left corner of the net. Cavan bagged their only score of the half on 53 minutes through substitute Harry O'Neill but Armagh added further gloss to a brilliant performance when McConville's effort dropped over and Shane Conlon's injury-time score ensured a ten-point victory.
They play the winners of Tyrone/Monaghan on June 28.
ARMAGH: Ryan Kearney, Feargus Quinn, Aidan Rushe, Cathal Donnelly, Cathal Boylan, Cathaoir McKinney, Conor McNichol, Jarlath Og Burns, Shane Conlon (0-2, 1 free), Jack Rafferty, Oisin O'Neill (0-4, 1 free), Kyle Mallon, Ryan Hughes (0-2), Paul Quinn and Caolan McConville (0-2).
Subs used: Conor Cullen (1-3, 1 free) for P Quinn, Ronan McKeown for Hughes and Conor Higgins for Rafferty.
CAVAN: Mark Fegan, David Wilson, Cormac Daly, Jason McMahon, Matthew McKenna, Caiomhin O'Reilly (0-1), David Brady (0-1, free), Brian Magee 90-1), Pierce Smith, Brian Sheanan, Ryan Connolly, Sean Hendrick, Conor Brady (0-1) and Thomas Galligan. Darren Gannon (0-1) for Sheanon, Daire McEnroe for Magee, Harry O'Neill (0-1) for Hendrick, Johnny Brady for Connolly and Sean McGeough for McKenna.
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