Good news for Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney as speedy defender Mark Shields comes into form
WITH Armagh’s Ulster Championship clash with Fermanagh 31 days away, much of the focus is on what players make it through the opening club rounds unscathed and hitting form.
Good news for Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney is that his injury list is beginning to shorten though as speedy defender Mark Shields, an injury concern, has played in both Whitecross’s opening League games and chipped it with a point in the two games, including Sunday’s Senior B League (3-08 to 0-08) win over Tir na nOg.
Incidentally all of Whitecross’s scores came from play, with Cathal McSherry impressing.
Culloville’s Colm Watters was the two-goal hero in their thumping of (0-04 to 3-12) Carrickcruppen in Intermediate A League, while his county club-mate Niall Rowland also found the target.
A young and inexperienced Camlough side battled with little reward although Armagh keeper Blaine Hughes, lining out at half-forward for his club, was among the Cruppen scorers.
Connaire Mackin, who made his county debut in the National League Final win against Fermanagh in Croke Park, scored a last-gasp equaliser for Shane O’Neill’s in their Intermediate A encounter with south Armagh rivals Forkhill.
His county team-mate Greg McCabe was also on the scoresheet for Shane O’Neill’s while Armagh’s duo Stephen Sheridan and Paddy Burns impressed for home side, with the county midfielder on target.
Early indications are that there will be no runaway winners of the top two tiers, given that 28 of the 32 teams in the top two grades of Senior and Intermediate Leagues have picked up at least a League point.
A more competitive league system is hoped to improve standards and produce players ready to make the step up to county.
The emphasis may be on current county players making it through games without injury.
However, it was former Armagh star Paul Hearty who was forced to come out of retirement to dig out his club Crossmaglen Rangers and they weren’t pulling any punches as hammered Harps 4-18 to 1-10 in Abbey Park.
Crossmaglen’s three goalkeepers were injured so the 19-times county champion answered the SOS.
Armagh’s James Morgan has yet to return to club action, Paul Hughes is still out injured but the America bound Oisin O’Neill and his younger brother and county prospect Rian O’Neill starred. Stephen Morris is also stepping up to the plate and looks a potential county player. Harps were understrength with Paddy Morrison sitting the game out.
However, Sunday’s win gives Rangers two wins from two in the first two rounds of the Armagh All-County Senior League A League.
Also in Senior League A, Armagh panellist and U20 player Ross McQuillan nicked a late winning point for St Pat’s Cullyhanna for a hard-fought 1-13 to 2-09 victory over Maghery.