Minors miss out in Ulster opener

Derry 1-7 Armagh 0-8

A second half Derry goal, against the run of play, knocked the Armagh minors out of the Ulster Championship on Sunday afternoon.

The Orchard County were the best team on show for spells, particularly in the third quarter, but couldn’t make it count on the scoreboard.

Ciaran McKeever’s side will rue those missed opportunities that could have given the game a different outcome.

Armagh made the better start to proceedings, with Ronan Fitzpatrick proving the danger man up top, grabbing all of their first half points.

A Derry score from their captain and star man Matthew Downey split two Armagh points (one free) early in the game.  

Fitzpatrick struck again after good work from his Crossmaglen teammate Caolan Finnegan, when a goal looked possible.

His first pass across the goal was turned away but Antoin McParland gathered up the spilled possession and assisted Fitzpatrick’s third.

The Armagh centre half forward saw his fourth sandwiched by two more Derry points, Dan Higgins and Lachlan Murray both finding the target.

Armagh kept their noses ahead at the break, with one point the difference as the referee blew the short whistle, 0-4 to 0-3.

Downey nailed two more from the dead ball early in the second period, either side of an Adam Garvey wonder-point.

Darragh McMullan’s quick reactions switched the ball to Garvey, who was in acres of space, and the Killeavy man sliced over a beauty with the outside of his right boot.

Ronan Fitzpatrick hit an equally brilliant point moments later curling the ball over effortlessly from the right-hand side.

Derry then struck the crucial score of the game. Downey played through a defence-splitting pass, to Dan Higgins, who charged down on goal.

He reached the ball before the outcoming Armagh netminder and with a light flick, faced an empty goal to kick to.

Armagh reacted heroically to the setback, which left two between them, and dominated possession until the water break.

Matthew Lennon made a telling difference when introduced and pointed after Oran McCaffrey caught a Derry kickout and set up the substitute.

Caolan Finnegan did wonderfully well to hold on to possession and set up corner forward McMullan who slotted over the equalising score.

That proved to be Armagh’s final action in front of the posts as Derry tagged on the final two scores of the game.

The home side controlled the final few minutes, with Downey slotting over two frees to secure the victory.

Armagh will be bitterly disappointed with the result, but progress is clear to see and on another day, they could have found themselves preparing for an Ulster semi-final.

 Armagh Team: Cathal Doherty, David Mallie, Gareth Murphy, Emmet Magee, Adam Garvey (0-1), Niall Dummigan, Fergal O’Brien, Michael Burnett, Oran McCafferty, Antoin McParland, Ronan Fitzpatrick (0-5 2f), Sean Conlon, Darragh McMullan (0-1), Ciaran Donnelly, Caolan Finnegan. Subs: Zion McKernan for E. Magee, Matthew Lennon (0-1) for C. Donnelly, Michael McConville for M. Burnett, Fergal Kieran for O. McCafferty.