Wednesday 29 March 2017

Devlin's late double not enough to derail Orchard

Armagh 2-9
Derry 2-8

Two late goals from Aaron Devlin weren't enough to secure a replay for Derry as Armagh hung on for a one-point win in a game they seemed to have settled early in the second half.

A brace of goals from full-forward Paul McGeown had Armagh leading by 2-9 to 0-8 with one minute of regulation time remaining, but Devlin hit two pile-drivers which left the visitors mightily relieved at the final whistle.

Derry started brightly and led when Benny Quigg pointed from 30-metres, but were rocked by a freak goal on nine minutes. As Paul McGeown's shot sailed wide, the Derry defence moved out seemingly expecting the kick-out, but referee Eamon McHugh gave a 13-metre free, which effectively became a penalty that McGeown blasted home from out of his hands.

The ramshackle goal rattled the Derry defence and by the 17th minute Armagh were 1-3 to 0-1 in front as Barry Seeley from a free, Aidan Forker and Colin Stevenson raised the white flag for the Orchard lads.

As the Oak Leafers recovered their composure, they battled back into the game with Tony Martin, Canice Rocks and Benny Quigg (two) all scoring points, while the Armagh goal lived a charmed life on at least three occasions. The third quarter was decisive as Armagh took over and built up a lead that was sufficient. Seeley started the onslaught, kicking a free from the right, which was followed by a point McGeown. A flowing move then finished with McGeown sliding home his second goal on 38 minutes, to make it Armagh 2-5 Derry 0-5 and the Oak Leafers looked beaten.

A Quigg free signalled Derry's resistance, but Forker and James King both extended the lead to seven for Armagh. The gap remained going into the final minute and when Devlin lashed home a 14-metre shot Armagh still looked comfortable. But from Derry's next attack, Devlin repeated the feat with another rocket of a shot and Armagh were shaken.

Derry launched one last desperate raid, but Tiarnan Rafferty's shot dropped short and nestled in the grateful arms of Armagh 'keeper Matthew McNeice to secure the All-Ireland Champions' passage.

Scorers -- Armagh: P McGeown 2-2, A Forker 0-2, B Seeley 0-2f, J King, C Stevenson, R Rafferty 0-1 each. Derry: A Devlin 2-0, B Quigg 0-4 (0-2f) C Rocks, T Martin, F Duffin, F Bell (0-1f) 0-1 each.

Armagh -- M McNeice; R McCaughey, C Hoey, R Finnegan; D Nugent, J King, N McConville; P Carragher, C Gough; S McCoy, A Forker, B Seeley; C Stevenson, P McGeown, R Rafferty. Subs: A Findon for McCoy (48), R Conlon for Stevenson (55).

Derry -- D McKindless; R Ferris, R Moore, K McKaigue; T Rafferty, N Rocks, C Rocks; C Mullan, A Devlin; C Spiers, B Quigg, T Martin; R Bell, F Bell, C Devlin. Subs: D Johnston for Mullan (38), B Og McGilligan for C Devlin (40), G Keane for Martin (49), F Duffin for N Rocks (49).

Ref -- E McHugh (Tyrone).

Irish Independent

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