Armagh and Down will both represent Ulster in the All Ireland minor series but it’s the former who go forward as provincial champions thanks to a deserved three point win over their near neighbours at St Tiernachs Park Clones yesterday afternoon.
There was no doubt that the two best minor sides in the province were on show although they both failed to produce the sort of football that had seen them battle their way through to the decider. No doubt both will knuckle down over the next couple of weeks as they prepare for All Ireland quarter-final ties with Dublin and Kildare.
It was Armagh who made all the early running and after midfielder Peter Carragher opened the scoring with a fine effort from the right wing they struck for a sixth minute goal.
Conor King burst through the Down defence before offloading to Rory Grugan who coolly rounded keeper James Deeney before finishing to an empty net. Down opened their account from a David McKibben free before they drew level at the end of the opening quarter.
A great move involving Keith Quinn, Robbie White and McKibben ended with the latter’s shot being well saved by Armagh keeper Stephen O’Reilly but midfielder Caolan Mooney was on hand to drill the rebound to the net.
Robbie Tasker then put Armagh back in front when his attempt at a goal just clear the crossbar but back came Down with a superb equaliser from Mark Haughey. The Orchard lads had the final say of the first half though through Tasker as they led 1-3 to 1-2.
Within a couple of minutes of the restart Eugene McVerry and defender Kealan Downey helped stretch Armagh’s advantage to three and it looked as though they would go on to record a comfortable victory but Down hit back.
Kevin McClorey and Robbie White reduced the deficit to the minimum again but that was as good as it was to get for the Mourne lads as they were to add just another score to their tally as Armagh took the silverware with Grugan hitting a lace brace of points.
Armagh: S O’Reilly, K Downey [0-1], R Finnegan, K Nugent, D McKenna, N Rowland, J Morgan, P Carragher [0-1], J Donnelly, R Grugan [1-2], A Murnin, C King, R Tasker [0-2], E McVerry [0-1], G McParland [0-1]. Subs - R Rafferty for Murnin, D Nugent for King
Down: J Deeney, R Doran, S McNamee, D O’Hanlon [0-1], K McClorey [0-1], C McClean, F McEvoy, C Mooney [1-0], N McParland, M Haughey [0-1], R White [0-1], K Quinn, M Bagnall, R McGarry, D McKibben [0-1]. Subs - D O’Hare for McKibben, N Cunningham for McClorey, D McEntee for Doran, P Quinn for White
Referee: S McNamee, Tyrone