Friday 15 December 2017

Coulter brace helps clinical Armagh sink Wee County

Armagh 3-20 Louth 1-15

Declan Coulter, Armagh, in action against Ronan Byrne, Louth. Nicky Rackard Cup Final, Armagh v Louth, Croke Park, Dublin. Photo: Sportsfile
Declan Coulter, Armagh, in action against Ronan Byrne, Louth. Nicky Rackard Cup Final, Armagh v Louth, Croke Park, Dublin. Photo: Sportsfile

NICKY RACKARD CUP FINAL

Armagh's decision to drop down a tier paid dividends as they cruised to victory in this decider.

It was tough on Louth, who lost to London in last year's final, and Pat Clancy's side were put to the sword in the first half by the clinical Ulstermen, who secured their second title in three seasons.

Declan Coulter bagged two goals in the opening period, while Conor Corvan also raised a green flag, courtesy of a Coulter assist, as Armagh led by 3-13 to 0-8 at half- time.

David Carvill provided five of the winners' points in that period, while Shane Fennell was Louth's chief source of relief with a similar contribution.

Coulter struck early, benefiting from good work by Paul McCormack to blast to the Louth net in the fifth minute. When Corvan made little of a very tight angle to goal a quarter of an hour later, there were already 10 points between the sides.

The supply from Armagh's half-back line and midfield was constant and of top quality, making it very difficult for Louth's overworked full-back line against such dangerous attackers.

reward

Coulter notched up his second major in the 26th minute with a low shot and there was no way back for Louth after that.

The Wee County outfit provided stouter resistance after the resumption and Brian Corcoran's brilliantly taken goal in the 58th minute was fitting reward for their efforts. Driving in from the right, the Mattock Rangers man unleashed a powerful shot into the far corner that left Simon Doherty helpless.

Shane Fennell, who finished with a nine-point tally, continued to punish Armagh indiscretions as the winners appeared to take their foot off the gas. Coulter's 47th-minute substitution, presumably due to injury, also robbed Armagh of much of their attacking thrust.

Ruairi McGrattan, James King and Fiachra Bradley were among those to keep the scoreboard ticking over for Armagh.

They only managed seven points in the second half, but such was their superiority in the opening period, that was always going to be sufficient to ensure victory.

Man of the Match: Declan Coulter (Armagh).

Scorers -- Armagh: D Coulter 2-2, D Carvill 0-6 (5fs), C Corvan 1-3, R Gaffney, P McCormack (1f) 0-2 each, R McGrattan (f), J King, C Carvill, J Corvan, F Bradley 0-1 each. Louth: S Fennell 0-9 (8fs), B Corcoran 1-2, D O'Sullivan, S Callan, D Murphy, A Wallace 0-1 each.

Armagh -- S Doherty 7; P Hughes 7, C Clifford 8, C McKee 7; K McKernan 7, N Curry 7, P Gaffney 7; R McGrattan 8, J King 7; D Carvill 7, C Carvill 7, R Gaffney 7; C Corvan 7, P McCormack 8, D Coulter 8. Subs: F Bradley 6 for Coulter (47); J Corvan 6 for D Carvill (54); M Maguire 6 for King (63); A Carville 6 for C Corvan (68).

Louth -- J Connolly 8; D Rafferty 6, W Morrissey 7, M Wallace 6; D O'Sullivan 7, R Byrne 7, D Horan 6; S Callan 7, D O'Hanrahan 5; B Corcoran 8, S Fennell 8, D Murphy 6; K McNally 6, D Dunne 6, A Wallace 6. Subs: G Rellis for O'Hanrahan (22). Subs: G Rellis for O'Hanrahan (22); G Smyth for McNally (38); D McArdle for M Wallace (48); S Maguire for Murphy (61).

REF -- H Wallace (Donegal).

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