Friday 20 September 2019

Kieran McGeeney blasts rule changes after his Armagh troops hit St Mary's for six

Armagh 6-17 St Mary's 1-7

Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney criticised the rules after seeing them up close for the first time. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney criticised the rules after seeing them up close for the first time. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile Sportsdesk

Armagh began the 2019 season in style with a facile win over St Mary's Belfast at Crossmaglen in round one of the Dr McKenna Cup.

The experimental rules proved irrelevant due to the hosts blistering start. With five first half goals, Armagh at times didn't even tempt the hand-passing rule in its infancy.

Afterwards, however, Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney (right) criticised the rules after seeing them up close for the first time, claiming the changes are a knee-jerk reaction to pundits' criticisms.

"We seem to just bow down to certain pundits," he declared. "Anything that creates a change of focus, it doesn't matter what it is.

"What we're focusing in on now is the hand pass, it's the focus for everybody across the game.

"It's only one of the five changes but the focus is on it because that's what everybody says is ruining the game. It was ruining the game in the 70s, the 50s and the 30s but sure, we just like to tinker."

As for the action, Armagh blitzed from the traps with Ryan Grugan setting up namesake Jack for a second minute goal to make it 1-2 to no score.

After that, the intensity in the game was never apparent and the students, devoid of any inter-county regulars, duly suffered.

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Mary's full-forward Niall Toner on a rare attack forced Seán O'Hanlon into action with a snappy save around the post. Jason Duffy rattled the net after Stephen McConville (free) finally got the students off the mark and Ryan Coleman quickly doubled the lead.

By the time the returning Stefan Campbell found the net in the 19th minute all the Armagh forwards had their name on the scoresheet.

Wing-forward Ryan McShane hammered home the fourth and Colm Byrne added to the Mary's tally in response.

Jack Grugan ended the half with his second goal to make it 5-12 to 0-3 at the break with the fact that all of Armagh's scores came from open play telling its own story.

The second period was beyond farcical at times, with the plethora of substitutes ruining whatever spectacle there had been but Aidan Forker impressed off the bench with two early points as the students found their range through Aaron Duffy and further frees from McConville.

James Morgan also shook off the rustiness of a year off with a point, whetting the Armagh faithful's appetite for the new season.

Connaire Mackin gladly accepted a fortuitous goal as the impressive Ryan Coleman added some gloss for the Mary's scoreline with a well-earned goal.

Despite the lack of competition Armagh looked sharp for this time of year, but they know they'll face much tougher tests in this competition with Monaghan and Antrim in their group.

SCORERS- Armagh - J Grugan 2-2, J Duffy 1-2 (1f), C Mackin, R McShane 1-1, S Campbell 1-0, J Og Burns, R Grugan, J Hall, A Forker 0-2 each, J Morgan, R O'Neill (f), R McQuillan 0-1 each. St.Marys - R Coleman 1-1, S McConville 0-4 (3f), A Duffy, C Byrne 0-1 each.

Armagh - S O'Hanlon; G McCabe, R Kennedy, R McCaughley; C Mackin, B Donaghy, R McQuillan; N Grimley, J Og Burns; J Hall, R Grugan, R McShane; J Duffy, J Grugan, S Campbell. Subs: R O'Neill for J Hall (34), J Morgan for R McQuillan(HT), P Casey for N Grimley (HT), A Forker for B Donaghy (HT), J McElroy for J Grugan (55).

St.Mary's - C McAllister, C Dillon, M Rooney; C Byrne, R McCusker, J Hannigan; S McConville, A Duffy; A Boyle, R Coleman, T O'Kane; D McKinless, N Toner, R McSherry. Subs: C Goodwin for T O'Kane (40), P McSorley for A Duffy (65) T Sludden for D McKinless (65) G O'Neill for R McSherry (68)

Ref-Ciarán Branagan (Down)

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