Armagh hurlers got their Nicky Rackard Cup campaign off to a winning start at the weekend when they overcame a nervy first half performance to run out six point winners against Monaghan.
The home side had the better start with four points on the scoreboard in the opening seven minutes, but a defensive lapse allowed Monaghan’s Tadhg Campbell in for a goal to add to Fergal Rafter’s early score to level matters. It was tit for tat over the next five minutes with Armagh scores coming from Dylan McKenna and Paul Gaffney who finished superbly after an impressive fetch at midfield. Armagh pushed ahead with Dean Gaffney’s precision from the dead ball punishing the visitors twice and a brace from Nathan Curry, including a converted 65 after a great stop frok Patrick Bermingham in the Monaghan goals. Monaghan were playing some decent hurling and pulled back level before Gaffney added two from the dead ball, but an effort from Rafter left one in it approaching half time. The visitors did have an opportunity to push ahead going in at the break, but Mark Treanor’s effort was saved and deflected over the bar by Simon Doherty to leave the sides level.
Half time: Ard Mhacha 0-12 Muineachán 1-9
Monaghan hit the first three scores of the second half, before Dean Gaffney opened the Orchard’s second half account. The home side went in front with a good goal from Dylan McKenna, but this was cancelled out three minutes later with Monaghan talisman Fergal Rafter converting a penalty. Armagh again hit the net through Stephen Renaghan, but referee Chris Mooney had unfortunately failed to play advantage and the home side had to be content with a converted free. Rafter was again on target to make it 2-13 to 1-14 after 20 minutes of the half, but Armagh produced their best spell of hurling in the final period, hitting 1-6 to 0-1 including a Nathan Curry penalty, to end the Oriel challenge and pick up the two points.
Full time: Ard Mhacha 2-20 Muineachán 2-14
Armagh have plenty to work on before their trip to Warwickshire next week, but will take a lot of confidence from the manner in which they closed out this game. There other group match is an away game to Longford on 1 June.
Simon Doherty, Caolán Rice, Artie McGuinness, Odhrán Curry 0-1, Davey Bridges, Ciarán Clifford, Tiarnán Nevin, Paddy McGrane, Paul Gaffney 0-3, Shaun Toal, Nathan Curry 1-4 (1-0 f, 0-2 65) , Dean Gaffney 0-8f, Danny Magee 0-2, Dylan McKenna 1-2, Stephen Renaghan
Subs used: Glenn McKeown, Odhrán McCann