An excellent Mark McKeever goal in the 9th minute of the first half ultimately ended Antrim’s challenge as Armagh dominated the rest of the evening with an impressive performance to continue their run in the 2019 Electric Ireland Ulster Minor Championship, overcoming their opponents 1-14 to 1-9.
Antrim did take an early lead with Rian Lennon (their only point scorer on the day) splitting the posts before Ciaran Donnelly levelled the score 40 seconds later with a wonderful point. Adam Garvey put Armagh one point ahead after Dara O’Callaghan won the resulting Antrim kick out, two points in two minutes for the Orchard County.
Lennon drew the game once more with a second point but it was then Armagh took control of the contest. A brilliant, defence splitting Dara O’Callaghan pass left Mark McKeever facing a 1-on-1 against the keeper, with McKeever’s shimmy allowing him to round the Antrim number one and blast the ball to the net at his leisure.
O’Callaghan found the target a minute later as did Caolan Reavey, with Armagh now five points ahead. Lennon pulled one back with a pointed free but Armagh drove on once again. McKeever (2), O’Callaghan, Oisin King (2) and Reavey all kicked points and put their side firmly in the driving seat, with Antrim’s only response coming from a Lennon free, Armagh 1-10 Antrim 0-4 at the interval.
Ciaran Donnelly opened the scoring for Armagh in the first minute of the second period while Dara O’Callaghan chipped over his third free of the evening. Antrim’s best period of the match came in a five minutes spell, scoring 1-2, Calum Higgins raising the green flag while Lennon added a further two points.
Odhran McKeown emphasised the spirit and drive in the Armagh camp as his chasing run and turnover provided the counter attack which saw Reavey knock over his third of the game. Antrim got three of the final four scores of the game through Rian Lennon, with Armagh’s last point coming from substitute Niall Dummigan, seeing out a comfortable five point victory.
Armagh now proceed to the quarter final stage of the competition where they will face the challenge of an away tie against Donegal next Saturday evening, the game due for a 6.00pm throw in, in Ballybofey. The lads certainly provided a pleasing performance during the 60 minutes of action with another big outing and challenge in front of them next weekend.
Team: Shea Magill, Peter McGrane, Ryan Shortt, Rory Kearney, Lee Rice, Sean McVerry, Redmond French, Dara O’Callaghan (0-3), Adam Garvey (0-1), Michael McConville, Ciaran Donnelly (0-2), Jack Cunningham, Caolan Reavey (0-3), Mark McKeever (1-2), Oisin King (0-2). Subs: Darragh McMullen for J. Cunningham, Odhran McKeown for R. Kearney, Niall Dummigan (0-1) for M. McKeever, Dan McCarthy for C. Donnelly, Shea Vallely for P. McGrane