Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Armagh battle back for a draw

Armagh 0-13 Cork 1-10

Armagh's Martin O'Rourke gets to grips with John Miskella of Cork

If Armagh required any reminding of the passion, intensity and turbulence that awaits them in the forthcoming Ulster Championship, then they received it in this National League Division Two encounter at Crossmaglen yesterday - but only over the course of the last 10 minutes.

Up until then, an eminently forgettable encounter had provided a slice of evidence that the Orchard County does indeed have some emerging talent, that Oisin McConville is still a marksman supreme, and that competition for places is hotting up considerably.

But the closing segment of the contest offered a stern test of Armagh's character, resilience and appetite when the intensity was suddenly racked up and referee Vincent Neary found himself working overtime. He had overseen a low-key contest up until then during which the home side led by 0-6 to 0-4 at the break on a day when free-takers - McConville and Paddy McKeever for Armagh and Daniel Goulding for Cork - provided the lion's share of the scores.

But when the imposing Nicholas Murphy drilled in the only goal of the game in the 58th minute, Cork suddenly sprinted ahead at 1-9 and 0-9 and what had been a straightforward exercise for Armagh up until then suddenly became a test of endurance.

They found themselves presented with a further problem when Aaron Kernan was red-carded in the 63rd minute, followed five minutes later by Cork's Conor McCarthy.

Amid the frenzy, Aidan O'Rourke, McConville and McKeever pilfered points for the home side to ease them up alongside their opponents again at 1-9 to 0-12.

Yet when John Hayes scored a point in third minute of injury time the visitors looked to have sealed a win. But, in keeping with the frenetic pace of events, Armagh substitute Steven McDonnell stole away on the right wing seconds later to whip over a score with his only touch of the game to give his side a share of the spoils.

Paudie Kissane, Fintan Gould, John Miskella and the busy Hayes lent valuable support to Cork talisman Murphy while Aidan O'Rourke's quiet authority, David McKenna's energy at midfield, Charlie Vernon's rumbustious sorties and Paddy McKeever's rediscovered vigour were all plus-factors for home boss Peter McDonnell.

ARMAGH: C McKinney; P Kernan, F Bellew, F Moriarty; A Kernan (0-1), A O'Rourke, C McKeever; P McGrane, D McKenna; C Vernon, P McKeever (0-3, all frees), B Mallon; O McConville (0-5, four frees). G Swift, Micheal O'Rourke. Substitutes: Martin O'Rourke for Mallon (20 min), P Loughran for Vernon (50), R Clarke for Swift (55), A Mallon for Moriarty (58), S McDonnell for Martin O'Rourke (68). Yellow cards: Vernon (35 mins), Moriarty (45), A Kernan (55), McGrane (57), C McKeever (69). Red card: A Kernan (63 mins).

CORK: A Quirke; D Duggan, D Kavanagh, K O'Connor; P Kissane, S O'Donoghue, J Miskella; N Murphy, F Gould; S O'Brien, K O'Sullivan, K McMahon; D Goulding, J Masters, J Hayes. Substitutes: P Kelly for O'Sullivan (half-time), C McCarthy for McMahon (58 mins). Yellow cards: Kavanagh (25 mins), Hayes (60), Gould (67). Red card: C McCarthy (68 mins).

Referee: Vincent Neary (Mayo)

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