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Armagh suffer defeat to Derry in Dr McKenna Cup opener

Kieran McGeeney. Pic by John Merry

Derry 3-10 Armagh 2-11

Armagh’s chances of ending their 22-year wait for a McKenna Cup title took a serious hit with defeat to Derry in Owebeg this afternoon.

Kieran McGeeney’s men, fresh off that O’Fiaich Cup victory pre-Christmas were entering a competition hopeful of inflicting a second pre-season defeat of the Oakleaf county.
But Damian Barton’s side had other ideas.

It was Armagh who began the better with the first score of the game, before Anto Duffy thrashed the ball past the Derry ‘keeper to give his side an early four point lead.

The hosts were quick to respond before Rory Grugan tapped over a free from the right-hand side.

Two quick-fire points from Aidan McLaughlin and Emmet McGuckin reduced the margin to two for the Oakleafers.

Oisin McKeever pointed a free between the sticks before Derry drew level with McLaughlin slotting home neatly past Matthew McNeice in the Armagh goal.

Two late scores gave Derry a cushion going into the break.

It was McKeever who opened the scoring in the second half before Ben Crealey – a half-time substitute for Armah – quickly drew the sides level.

And the Orchardmen were soon in the lead thanks to a point from Carrickcruppen’s John Magill, however, an Emmet McGuckin penalty gave the hosts a two point lead once more

Crealey responded for Armagh to reduce the deficit to the minimum but Michael Warnock, on his Derry debut, tapped over on 51 minutes.

Armagh’s challenge was all but ended two minutes later when Peter Hagan played in Enda Lynn who slotted a third past McNeice; the Annaghmore¬†man left with no chance.

Rory Grugan got his second from a free with just under 10 minutes to go before Crealey added his third of the half, leaving the visitors four in arrears but it wasn’t enough.

Ryan Bell notched his second point of the game to give Derry their five-point cushion one more.

McKeever added a consolation goal with the last kick of the game.

It’s going to take a big turnaround in this group already to see McGeeney and his troops progress in this year’s competition but already it’s looking like attention will turn to the Division Three campaign opener in Newry next month.

Att: 2,281

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