GAA Football

Armagh Harps cruise to comfortable win

Eugene Creaney

ARMAGH Harps cruised to a comfortable 2-16 to 0-10 win in last night’s qualifier game against Grange at a wet Athletic Grounds.

The city side did ride their luck during the opening period, though, as Grange forward Ryan Kieran was denied twice inside two minutes by the Harps’ ‘keeper Patrick Moririson. The county shot-stopper also pulled off a great stop from the towering full-forward right at the death.

In the interim period, goals from Simon McCoy and a late finish from substitute Conor Coulter illustrated the victors’ dominance, while the versatility of Declan McKenna, the outstanding player on show, also caught the eye.

The sides were level six times in the opening period, and although the winners led at the break on a scoreline of 0-7 to 0-4, they registered eight wides before finding their feet in the final quarter to pull clear.

Grange, who welcomed back Ethan Rafferty, were without county player Miceal McKenna, but they promised to run Harps close in the second 30 minutes after Rafferty, his brother Colm and Kieran kicked first-half points.

However, with Charlie Vernon dropping deep, the Harps provided a second-half power show.

Although tempers flared somewhat, both sides showed versatility in the wet conditions.

Harps showed that more than their opponents and they got the scores to back that up as McCoy blasted to the net after 41 minutes and Peter Rafferty’s Grange side were rocked as Conor Clarke, Josh Loughran, and the influential Joe McElroy scored at will.

Despite their wastefulness, Harps dominated the final quarter.

The Grange scores came from the superb Daire Mallon and Colm Rafferty but they were sandwiched by strikes from midfielder Loughran, McKenna and county player Joe McElroy.

Grange, to their credit, battled to the end, but the winners finished strongly and Coulter had the final say.

The attacker latched on to a delivery from Ryan McShane to score his side’s second goal of the game with time almost up.

Ryan Field and the winners’ full back Karol Loughran were outstanding while for Grange, Cathal McKenna was lively.

Morrison’s first-half stops, in retrospect, proved to be crucial for the winners who eventually found their feet as Grange wilted in the closing minutes.

First half goals by Paul McKenna (two) and a sweet effort  from Barry Seeley set Clann Eireann up for a 4-11 to 0-13 victory over Ballymacnab in the second of last night’s games

Seeley’s second, from a penalty on 33 minutes, gave the mid-Armagh men a mountain to climb, and the brilliant James McDade plus superb work from John McLaughlan kept the Shore Road side in the driving seat.

Brian McCone who hit five of his side’s points on the  night, was well assisted by the inventive Rory Grugan, but the Armagh player’s attempts on goal late on were well stifled by the winners, who cruised to victory as Ryan Henderson showed his class in the closing stages.

This was possibly the Lurgan side’s best outing to date under new manager Kieran Robinson, and although the ’Nab were a little out of sorts, they were outclassed and outbattled throughout.

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GAA Football