Armagh 1-10 Tyrone 1-12
Kieran McGeeney’s first game in charge of Armagh ended in defeat to neighbours, and old rivals, Tyrone at the Athletic Grounds.
It may have only been the first round of the Dr.McKenna Cup but this rivalry will always carry huge following and it was this very following that caused the game to be put back half an hour to cope with the sudden influx of arriving patrons.
Once proceedings were under way the action was end to end from the off. Although an early altercation involving several players from both sides saw both reduced to 14 men.
Red Hand stalwart Sean Cavanagh was essential in his County’s win despite picking up an early yellow card.
Cavanagh opened the scoring for the visitors from a free after Aaron Findon was adjudged to have fouled him out on the wing.
Armagh quickly gathered themselves and responded with a long range effort from Ethan Rafferty which rasped off the post and fell kindly to Micheal McKenna who got the Orchard County off the mark.
McKenna was involved soon after when his quick free was played into the full forward line, eventually resulting in a point for Niall McParland.
Several frees for Tyrone resulted in missed opportunities before the break in play following melee which saw Armagh Captain Ciaran McKeever and Tyrone’s Colm Cavanagh dismissed for their roles.
The game picked up where it left off with a pointed free from Eugene McVerry followed by a trademark jinking run from Sean Cavanagh who pulled his side level with another point.
Ryan McKenna was shown a black card for a foul while Armagh were bearing down on goal. The free was converted by Ethan Rafferty and Tyrone’s McKenna was replaced by Dwayne Quinn.
Great patience and work rate from the Armagh midfield and forward line allowed Micheal McKenna to add his second point.
Both keepers made brilliant saves either side of a 45 which was played quickly and put over from play by Darren McCurry.
A further point from a free for Cavanagh was the final score before half time as both sides traded wides.
Half Time: Armagh 0-06 Tyrone 0-05
Substitutes Tony Kernan & Jaime Clarke were introduced for Armagh replacing Ethan Rafferty & Niall McParland.
Good work from Stefan Forker and Kernan allowed the Maghery man to slot over Armagh’s opening score of the half.
An early second half yellow card for Finnian Moriarty proved pivotal as the Armagh centre half back was shown a second 7 minutes later.
Sean Cavanagh then sent over the resulting free to keep Tyrone within 1 of the home side.
Declan McKenna then replaced Stephen Sheridan as the game became very stretched up front for Armagh with only Niall McConville available in the full forward line.
A Tyrone substitution saw Cathal McShane come on for Emmett McKenna while Armagh’s goalkeeper Niall Geoghegan, who made an excellent stop to deny Padraig McNulty in the first half, injured himself running for a ball which came off the post from a Sean Cavanagh effort. He was assisted off the field as substitute keeper Matthew McNeice made his senior debut.
The next attack for Armagh allowed Micheal McKenna to notch a further point. An effortless strike from some distance.
Darren McCurry replied for Tyrone with a free before 2 more substitutions from Mickey Harte. This time Shea McGuigan & Kyle Coney were taken off for Mark Donnelly & Niall McKenna.
Despite a magnificent point from Tony Kernan, Tyrone took full advantage of Armagh’s depleted numbers in defence by conducting a sweeping move from left to right which was eventually dispatched by Aidan McCrory low to McNeice’s left hand side.
Jaime Clarke worked the ball from the half back line into the midfield and beyond as he played the ball to Niall McConville who spotted McVerry in open space. McVerry was left one on one with Tyrone’s Niall Morgan and the Mullaghbawn man made no mistake as he fired the ball across the keeper into the far corner.
However this proved to be Armagh’s final score of the game and from then on in it was Tyrone who had the lion’s share of possession. They used their numerical advantage to ask questions of Armagh’s early season fitness and eventually were able to make the spare man count. McCurry chipped over a point from a free before another sweeping Tyrone attack found McCurry on the overlap who notched another score.
Morgan converted a long range free to level it for Tyrone before a second yellow for Findon saw Armagh reduced to 12. McCurry & McShane added the final points as Tyrone came out on top by 2.
Not the start many would have hoped for but for the first game of McGeeney’s tenure, and of the season, it was most definitely an exciting marker from which to build.
Final Score: Armagh 1-10 Tyrone 1-12
By Colm McGleenan
Armagh Lineup: Niall Geoghegan, Mark McConville, Stephen Sheridan, Michael Murray, Mark Shields, Finnian Moriarty, Ciaran McKeever, Aaron Findon, Stefan Campbell, Stefan Forker, Micheal McKenna, Eugene McVerry, Niall McParland, Ethan Rafferty, Niall McConville.
Subs Used: Tony Kernan, Declan McKenna, Jaime Clarke.
Tyrone Lineup: Niall Morgan, Aidan McCrory, Ronan McNamee, Cathal McCarron, Tiernan McCann, Ryan McKenna, Peter Harte, Colm Cavanagh, Pádraig McNulty, Emmett McKenna, Kyle Coney, Peter Hughes, Darren McCurry, Sean Cavanagh, Shea McGuigan.
Subs Used: Dwayne Quinn, Niall McKenna, Cathal McShane, Mark Donnelly, Rory Brennan.