Armagh keeper McEvoy can be number one hit
When Philip McEvoy was handed occasional chances to prove his worth as a goalkeeper with Armagh last year he certainly did not let anyone down.
Now the Dromintee clubman is to be again offered the opportunity to displace long-serving Paul Hearty from between the posts — but he acknowledges that this is a very big challenge.
McEvoy has performed heroically at Minor and Under-21 level for Armagh and is regarded as one of the most complete goalkeepers within the county.
“He has been doing very well with his club and he certainly has a very bright future,” points out county board spokesman Joe Jordan.
McEvoy will be on duty against Down tomorrow night in the McKenna Cup at Pairc Esler, Newry and is likely to get the vote for the team’s forthcoming games against Antrim and St Mary’s as Paul Hearty will be on All-Ireland Club duty with Crossmaglen Rangers.
Hearty of course took over from Benny Tierney following Armagh’s 2002 All-Ireland triumph and has been the regular incumbent since then. But McEvoy, known for his sharp reflexes and intelligent kick-outs, is now prepared to make a bold bid to make the No. 1 shirt his own.
“We could hardly have asked for a more attractive game than to be meeting Down,” says McEvoy.
“While we were all disappointed that our match against Antrim last Sunday was ruled out we are really fired up for this one against James McCartan’s men.”
The Mournemen will be without several regulars and McCartan will take the opportunity to assess many of his fringe players including Conor Poland and Kevin Anderson in particular.
“Like Armagh, we are going into Division One of the National League in a few weeks time and we certainly need to be on our toes for this,” says McCartan.
“The McKenna Cup will allow a lot of managers to see just what they have at their disposal.”
Armagh will be missing their commanding full-back Brendan Donaghy who is turning out for UUJ against Donegal in the competition tomorrow as is Down defender Conor Murney.
UUJ manager Adrian McGuckin is without a posse of talented forwards for the trip to Ballybofey including Conor Mortimer (Mayo) and Conor McManus (Monaghan).
“We’re going to meet Donegal who are the McKenna Cup holders and we certainly would have liked to have everyone on board,” says McGuckin.
UUJ have been singularly impressive in the McKenna Cup in recent years and actually came close to making the decider last year, thus following in the footsteps of Queen’s who were just pipped by Donegal in the 2009 final. Like Queen’s and St Mary’s, UUJ have an advantage over the county teams in that they were able to train normally and play competitive fixtures during November and December.