Armagh 1-17 QUB 0-15: HIS team may have ultimately garnered a comfortable victory over Queen's in the Dr McKenna Cup at the Athletic Grounds yesterday, but Armagh manager Paul Grimley does not pull his punches in assessing the tasks that lie ahead.
"I think we have to take into account that Queen's were seriously under-strength," declared Grimley.
"Also we created four clear first-half goal chances and fluffed them all. While there were encouraging aspects of this display, we still have much work to do."
And he expressed disappointment, too, with the only black card that was flashed during the game.
"I thought that Robbie Tasker was harshly penalised," said Grimley. If players are going to incur this sanction for such trivial offences, then there could be problems ahead."
Up until his dismissal in the 22nd minute, the willowy Tasker had been lively in the Armagh attack but his replacement Stefan Forker certainly maximised his opportunity by plundering three points and proving a constant thorn in the side of the Queen's defence.
A third quarter scoring blitz that yielded 1-6 without response underpinned Armagh's performance, the Students having offered their opponents a feisty first-half challenge.
The sides were level at 0-8 at half-time but a Niall McConville goal in the 50th minute was complemented by a raft of points, particularly some spectacular efforts from the ubiquitous Forker, Oisin MacIomhair and Niall McConville, thrust the home side into an unassailable 1-14 to 0-10 lead.
Ethan Rafferty highlighted an impressive shift at midfield by landing three superb points, McConville and substitute Forker unleashed their predatory instincts in attack and skipper Brian Mallon deployed his experience and craft to good effect, notably when impressively setting up McConville's goal.
Ryan Murray, who landed six points in all, and Ronan McGrady (0-3) were very much to the fore for Queen's with the former's contribution surely gaining recognition from Antrim manager Liam Bradley, who will be doubtless pleased with his recent fine displays.
Queen's energy and cohesion caused problems for their hosts in the first-half but they wilted after the break. In all, nine players scored for Armagh but manager Grimley put this sharply in context when he commented: "If we can get 10 players to score against Donegal next Sunday, then that will be a bonus."
Armagh: N Geoghegan; A Mallon, C Vernon, G McCooey; M Shields, K Toner, C Rafferty (0-1); S Harold (0-1), E Rafferty (0-3, 0-2 frees), ; O MacIomhair (0-3), B Mallon, S Campbell (0-3); R Tasker (0-1), E McVerry (0-1), N McConville (1-2). Subs used: S Forker (0-3) for Tasker (22 mins), K O'Rourke for McVerry (46), F Moriarty for Harold (61), M McKenna for MacIomhair (66), Ciaran MacIomhair for McConville (66), E English for Campbell (68). Black card: Tasker (22)
Queen's: M Cunningham; C McNulty, P Quinn, O Costello; R Mallon, D O'Hanlon, C McCartan; C Cullen, M McElhinney,; H Og Conlon (0-3), C Maginn, T Donnelly (0-1); D McAleese, R Murray (0-6, 0-4 frees), R Rafferty (0-2). Subs: G Collins for Costello (19 mins), S McArdle for McAleese (22 mins), G Monan for McCartan, R McGarry for McNulty (both half-time), R McGrady (0-3) for McGarry (45), K Moynagh for Mallon (62).
Referee: Martin Higgins (Fermanagh).