Derry goals break Armagh resistance in U21 battle
Ulster U21 Hurling Championship: Armagh 1-10 Derry 3-19
DERRY booked their place in the Ulster U21 Hurling Championship final for the second time in as many years after a swashbuckling performance against Armagh last night.
While the senior hurlers in Derry might be in a difficult place at present, there was enough on show in St Oliver Plunkett Park to suggest they could have a bright future as they ran riot against a decent Armagh team.
The Oak Leaf county subscribed to the goals win games philosophy and they could not have asked for a better start.
The 13th second proved unlucky for Armagh when Brian Cassidy rattled the net with a stunning goal following Cormac O’Doherty’s long pass.
Points from Shaun Toal and captain Peter McKearney steadied Armagh’s ship but Derry always looked dangerous with their direct attacking approach.
Cavan referee James Clarke allowed the game to flow, playing advantage before awarding frees while still permitting a physical contest.
Played in Crossmaglen, confusion over the throw-in time meant that the small band of supporters arrived in dribs and drabs with the game actually starting shortly before 8pm instead of the scheduled 7.45pm time.
Points from Thomas Magee and Deaglan Foley extended Derry’s lead before O’Doherty ploughed through a sea of orange before smashing in Derry’s second goal.
Armagh missed three frees they would have expected to score which proved costly as Foley was stroking over points for fun. Toal, Joe O’Connor and David McCreesh did tag on points but Derry finished the half strongly with Foley gracefully converting frees and the hard working Cassidy also squeezed over a tight angled point.
Despite McCreesh striking over the opening point of the second period, it failed to spark a spirited comeback. Instead Derry’s tight defence gave Armagh little change in front of goal whereas Derry where relentless even though they played more of a running game.
O’Doherty (0-2) and Mark McGuigan struck over points in the space of two minutes before Paul McNeill’s 45th-minute goal killed the game off. The Orchard hurlers never stopped battling but Derry possessed that little bIt more class and conviction and were leading 3-14 to 0-9 on 50 minutes before Armagh’s Conor McAnallen converted a penalty.
With one eye on the final, Derry introduced a flurry of subs and Fintan McGurk and Fintan O’Kane gave manager Tom McClean something to think about by grabbing late scores. It was a magnificent night for Derry hurling while Armagh won’t be overly alarmed.
Armagh: P McKearney (0-2), C McAnallen (1-0 pen), J O’Connor (0-2), D McCreesh (0-3, 0-1 free), F Toal (0-2, 0-1 free), D McKenna (0-1)
Derry: B Cassidy (1-1), P McNeill (1-1), M McGuigan (0-2), D Foley (0-9, 0-8 frees), C O’Doherty (1-3), T Magee (0-1), F O’Kane (0-1), F McGurk (0-1)