Thursday 18 January 2018

McVerry hat-trick inspires Leitrim rout

Armagh 8-13 Leitrim 0-10


For the second game in a row Armagh turned on the style to defeat weak opponents, as Eugene McVerry's hat-trick fired them into Round 3 of the qualifiers.

Fresh from a demoralising defeat to London in the Connacht championship semi-final, Leitrim never managed to recover their early-season swagger and exited the championship with a bit of a whimper.

Without Emlyn Mulligan and Enda Williams from the start, Leitrim lost Paddy McGowan in the sixth minute, as Armagh had it all wrapped up well before half-time.

They hit the net four times in 24 minutes in the opening half, with three coming from their full-forward line.

The first goal arrived in the 10th minute after Lavery found Kevin Dyas on the right with another quick free. Dyas showed admirable vision to spot McVerry in front of goal and the Mullaghbawn man finished low past Cathal McCrann.

At that early stage Leitrim looked shell-shocked at the back and they hoped to stem some of the Armagh dominance in their full-back line by moving Paul Brennan back to pick up Jamie Clarke.

However, moments later Clarke managed to give him the slip as well and his pinpoint foot-pass sent Tony Kernan in on goal and the full-forward made no mistake from close range.

It wasn't long before Armagh hit their third goal of the half, when Dyas carried from deep, ignored a couple of team-mates and slotted the ball into the net. And things went from bad to worse for the home side a minute before the break when McVerry bagged his second of the half after a sharp move through the hands of Lavery, Dyas and Aaron Kernan.

And Tony Kernan brought his tally to 1-4 just before the break with a super point from distance as Grimley's side took a 4-8 to 0-4 lead into the break.

Any hopes that Armagh might ease up after the restart soon dissipated when Aaron Kernan's free was quickly followed by McVerry's third goal in the 42nd minute.

A minute later Armagh hit their sixth goal when Stephen Harold's handpass over the top sent Mark Shields through.

The Leitrim stopper made a fine save from Aaron Kernan in the 45th minute to deny Armagh an eighth goal, but he soon slotted his third free to bring their tally to 6-11 to 0-5.

Clarke rubbed salt into the wounds when he rattled the net 10 minutes from time. But Clarke still wasn't finished and three minutes later he took a pass from Lavery and fought off his marker on the edge of the square and hit his second goal. It was cruel on Leitrim.

It is hard to know what to take from this Armagh display. They refused to ease up on their opponents in the closing stages, going for goals when easy points were up for grabs.

Scorers – Armagh: E McVerry 3-0, J Clarke 2-3, T Kernan 1-5 (3f, 1'45), A Kernan 0-4 (4f), K Dyas & M Shields 1-0 each, S Harold 0-1; Leitrim: K Conlon 0-8 (7f), R Cox (1f) & D Sweeney 0-1 each.

Armagh: P McEvoy; J Morgan, B Donaghy, P McKeown; A Kernan, C McKeever (capt), M Shields; J Lavery, S Harold; C Rafferty, K Dyas, E Rafferty; J Clarke, T Kernan, E McVerry. Subs: S Campbell for E Rafferty (27), C O'Hanlon for McVerry (48), F Moriarty for Shields (53), A Forker for C Rafferty (56), S Forker for Clarke (63).

Leitrim: C McCrann (capt); F McMorrow, C Egan, D Beck; S McWeeney, G Reynolds, B Prior; D Sweeney, B Brennan; P McGowan, J Glancy, P Brennan; K Conlon, R Lowe, A Croal. Subs: R Gallagher for McGowan (6), R Cox for Croal (h-t), C Clarke for Beck (45), G Reynlods for McMorrow (56),

Referee: F Kelly (Longford)

Irish Independent

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