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Armagh too hot to handle as McConnell relishes new test

Armagh 4-20 Longford 0-12

By Declan Bogue

Armagh's hunt for a third Nicky Rackard Cup continued apace at Crossmaglen on Saturday, when they placed a foot on Longford's throat as early as the sixth minute when they grabbed the first of their four goals.

From then on Sylvester McConnell's men were unsurprisingly utterly in control of the tie and now will prepare to face neighbours Tyrone in the semi-final.

The final scoreline was ugly and one of those that do little for bridging the ability gaps in hurling.

Armagh manager Sylvester McConnell was greatly encouraged.

"There are a lot of positives," he began.

"Our subs bench is starting to look a lot stronger now, we had to make decisions who to put on. You are starting to look at it differently when a boy gets a card.

"We put up a good score there today and had 10 wides in the first half.

"That would have been a massive score, and some goal chances which we hadn't been getting."

He added: "It was tough for Longford, they got a bit of a tanking the last day out and another one for them there today, we feel for them."

Fiachra Bradley collected the first goal after an initial goal attempt by Cahal Carvill was parried by Longford goalkeeper Conor Gallagher, but Bradley made no mistake with the second. By half-time, Armagh had compiled a 2-12 to 0-3 lead, as well as the 10 wides. Further goals came from David Carvill, Conor Corvan and Ryan Gaffney, while Artie McGuinness was dominant at full-back.

Any notion of a Longford comeback was highly fanciful after they conceded 8-21 the previous week against Derry and over the 76 odd minutes of hurling, they contributed a mere five points from play.

It's been an eventful season for Armagh, with a shock defeat in the opening round to Donegal requiring them to have a full dance card over the last few weekends.

"Look, we knew what was ahead of us and we couldn't really do anything about injuries," lamented McConnell.

"We had to ride the storm out and we were building up our training as well and it is very hard when you have injuries on top of that there.

"We kind of knew it was a tough old direction but we were going to be going this direction anyway and if we had to go the back way we would."

Armagh: Doherty; Clifford, McGuinness, Bridges; Corvan, Gaffney, Devlin; Bradley 1-1, Curry 0-2; C Carvill 0-1, D Carvill 1-6, 5f, McKenna 0-1; Corvan 1-7, 4f, Gaffney 1-0, Magee. Subs: McGuinness and O Curry 0-1, for Devlin and Carvill (49), Gorman 0-1, for D Carvill (58), McKearney for Bradley (62). Yellow cards: Curry (40), McKenna (44), Gaffney (71). Red cards: 0

Longford: Gallagher; McLoughlin, Murray, Egan; Moane, Duggan, Mulhern; Walsh (0-7, 6f, 1 x SL, Barden; O'Brien 0-2, Hannon 0-1, Keegan; Farrington, R Murray 0-2, Kiernan. Subs: O'Brien for Kiernan (H-time), Kavanagh and Sheridan for Keegan and Farrington (51), A Sorohan for O'Brien (58), J Rosney for Hannon (62). Yellow cards: O'Brien (54). Red cards: Moane (71)

Referee: James Connors (Donegal).

Belfast Telegraph

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