Wednesday 21 February 2018

McConnell's men ready to rise

Armagh 1-19 Donegal 1-12

Armagh manager Sylvester McConnell believes his team is ready to take a step up to Christy Ring Cup hurling.

The Orchard County's clinical semi-final win over a feisty Donegal at the Athletic Grounds convinces McConnell that a higher plateau is beckoning for his side.

"I thought the boys offered a very professional performance. They played with great honesty and commitment. One of our goals this year is to make the important step up to the Christy Ring Cup," he said.

His team will meet old foes Roscommon in the Nicky Rackard decider on June 6 bolstered by a polished display of finishing against a Donegal side that showed a lot of fight.

Ryan Gaffney's eight points from frees and Eoin McGuinness's first-half goal - they led by 1-9 to 0-5 at the break - proved crucial, although a 44th-minute goal from Ronan McDermott and a points salvo from Ciaran Matthewson (four frees) sustained Donegal.

But with Ryan joined by subs David Carvill and Patrick Kelly in a late scoring blitz, Armagh eventually emerged relatively comfortable winners.

Scorers - Armagh: R Gaffney 0-8 (5f, 3 '65s), E McGuinness 1-1, C Corvan, J Corvan 0-2 each, N Curry, C Devlin, C Carvill, M Moan, D Carvill, P Kelly 0-1 each. Donegal: C Matthewson 0-6 (4f), R McDermott 1-2 (1f), D Cullen, P Sheridan, L Henderson (f), E McDermott 0-1 each.

Armagh - S Doherty; S Renaghan, C Clifford, C McKee; K McKernan, N Curry, C Devlin; J Corvan, S Gaffney; R Gaffney, C Carvill, D Coulter; M Moan, E McGuinness, C Corvan. Subs: A McGuinness for Coulter (50), D Carvill for S Gaffney (50), O Curry for McKee (60), R Conway for Devlin (65), P Kelly for E McGuinness (67). Yellow card: Coulter (35).

Donegal - D Laverty; J O'Loughlin, J Donnelly, M Callaghan; C McDermott, J Boyle, N Cleary; D Cullen, P Sheridan; C Matthewson, S McVeigh, E McDermott; L Henderson, R McDermott, B Lafferty. Subs: L Henderson for Campbell (3), C Kilgannon for Callaghan (41). Yellow cards: Cullen (23), McDermott (35), Donnelly (40), Boyle (41).

Ref - C Cunning (Antrim)

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