Derry opened 2017 with a one point win over Armagh at Owenbeg today. With manager Damien Barton on holiday it was just business as usual as two experimental sides produced a thrilling second half.
Armagh set the early pace racing into a four point lead as Niall Rowland burst throw to split the posts. A minute later Anthony Duffy was played in one on one with the Derry keeper before blasting high into the net giving the Orchard County an early four point lead.
The lead could have been extended when Duffy found himself in almost an identical position to where he goaled minutes earlier only this time his effort went to the right and wide.
Derry took advantage of Duffy’s miss to open their own account with twenty minutes on the clock as Niall Loughlin made no mistake from the forty-five. The subsequent kick out resulted in a momentous moment as the game’s first mark was claimed by Armagh centre back Niall Rowland.
Grugan pointed from a free to restore the lead to four on twenty four minutes but Derry would take over from here. Two from Loughlin and a score from McGuckin brought the deficit to one. A minute before the half time whistle Heron threaded through McLaughlin who shot across the keeper and into the Armagh net. The Oak leaf men had time to add another before the break when Loughlin added a third from a free.
This gave the hosts a two point lead at the break on a score line of 1-5 to 1-3.
The second half took a life of its own as the game burst into action. Oisin McKeever opened the scoring for Armagh with a point from play. Bell and McKeever traded scores before referee Niall Cullen awarded Derry a penalty for a foot block which McGuckin hammered into the net, giving Derry a two point lead.
Both sides made a number of changes but Warnock and Loughlin points gave the hosts a four point lead. A goal from substitute Enda Lynn put seven between the sides with 55 minutes on the clock.
Keeping with the established order another raft of substitutions were made from both sides as Armagh subs Rafferty and Crealey exchanged scores with Coney leaving it a four point game in the five minutes of additional time.
The veteran Ciaran McKeever found the net on the seventy fifth minute leaving it a one point game but it was to be in vein as Cullen blew his whistle ensuring Derry began 2017 with a win on a score line of 3-10 to 2-12.
Derry: Ben McKinless; Oisin Hegarty, Oisin Duffin, Peter Hagan; Patrick Coney, Jack Doherty, Neil Forester; Gavin O’Neill, Aidan McLaughlin; Gavin O’Neill, Aidan McLaughlin (1-1); Michael Warnock (0-1), Niall Loughlin (0-4,2f, 1 forty-five), Carlus McWilliams; Ryan Bell (0-2), Emmett McGuckin (1-1, 1pen), Benny Heron. (Subs) Enda Lynn (1-0) for G O’Neill, 45mins; Conor Nevein for A McLaughlin, 47mins; Ronan Murphy for E McGuckin, 55mins; Patrick Kearney (0-1) for P Coney, 55mins; Conor McGrogan for M Warnock, 66mins; Mark Lynch for J Doherty, 69mins;
Armagh: Matthew McNiece; Oisin Lappin, Charlie Vernon, John McGill (0-1); Simon McCoy, Niall Rowland (0-1), Ciaran Higgins; Stephen Sheridan, Aaron Findon; Aidan Forker, Niall McConville, Rory Grugan (0-2, 2f); Anthony Duffy (1-0), Ciaran McKeever (1-1), Oisin Mac Iomhair (0-3, 2f). (Subs) Conor White for Niall McConville , H/T; Ben Crealey (0-3) for Simon McCoy, H/T; Jemar Hall for N Rowland, 54mins. Ethan Rafferty (0-1, 1 forty-five) for A Findon, 58mins;
Referee; Niall Cullen (Fermanagh)