Armagh knock holders out of MacRory

February 09, 2019

Danske Bank MacRory Cup quarter-final

St Patrick’s Armagh 2-8 St Ronan’s Lurgan 2-6

WHEN a team doesn’t raise a flag of any type for the entire first half, they don’t expect to hold on to their titles and even a dramatic second half comeback couldn’t save holders St Ronan’s from crashing out of the Danske Bank MacRory Cup before a large crowd assembled in the Athletic Grounds on Saturday evening.

St Patrick’s Armagh avenged last year’s injury-time defeat in the semi-final by giving the holders a huge task at the break and Michael Conroy was key to their first half total of 2-3.

The Moy club man scored 1-3, although he was also guilty of shooting five wides during the same period. The three points came from frees inside the opening 20 minutes with the goal the result of a 23rd minute penalty.
Sean Quigley and Justin Kearan were involved in the build up to the spot kick awarded and Conroy was pulled to the ground. Although Luke Mulholland brilliantly saved the well-struck penalty, the ball fell kindly for Conroy to tuck into the opposite corner.

Armagh’s first goal had arrived via a high ball in from Niall Boyle in the 18th minute. It dropped short and Dillon Horsfield punched to the net.

St Ronan’s hit a couple of wides in the opening period, but generally they were outplayed by a hungry team from Cathdral Hill and badly needed inspiration for the second half.

That came early enough for them with James McCormick hooking over a left-footer within 30 seconds. The kickout wasn’t properly executed and McCormick played in Tiarnan Kelly but there was a foot block on his shot. A second penalty and Adam Loughran took responsibility to blast to the roof of the net. St Ronan’s were back in business.

Except that they still had to deal with Conroy. The Moy man stopped the rot by blasting over in the 33rd minute and added a free seven minutes later when Eoin McConville posted a great point for Lurgan from the far wing.

The teams exchanged three further points each up to 56 minutes and at 2-7 to 1-6, the game looked like petering out until St Ronan’s threw caution to the wind going on all out attack. It very nearly paid off when Jack Conlon bore down on goals in the 59th minute, but the Clann Éireann player chose to pass instead of shooting.

Then in the second minute of injury-time a high ball in from McCormick fell kindly for Lorcan Coulter to find the net. A single point separated the sides, but Armagh refused to panic and Conroy’s shot cum pass was worked out for sub Ryan Bradley to tap over an insurance point.

Armagh : J Gibney, O Conaty, O McKeagney, A Harney, S Quigley, C Toner, N Boyle, C McParland, C Laverty, D Horsfield (1-1), M Conroy (1-5, 0-4 frees), T Weir, R McDonald, J Kierans (0-1), L Coulter (0-1).
Subs : R Bradley for R McDonald (51), L Camara for L Coulter (56), J Walsh for D Horsfield (58)

St Ronan’s : L Mulholland, S Branagan, O McAliskey, G Downing, J Megoran, M Magee, T Harbinson, A Loughran (1-1, 1-0 pen), T Kelly, M McAfee, D Loney (0-1), N Dummigan, J McCormick (0-2), E McConville (0-1), J Conlon (1-0).
Subs : R Crawford (0-1) for M McAfee (39), E Kearney for O McAliskey (56).

Referee : Ciaran Brannigan (Down)

Photograph : from Mark Richards