Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Clarke bounces back from final disappointment

Jamie Clarke may have tasted disappointment with Crossmaglen Rangers in the AIB All Ireland Club final but he showed no ill-affects and acquired a generous measure of compensation 24 hours later when almost single-handedly he blitzed Cavan in the Ulster Under-21 football championship quarter final at the Athletic Grounds, Armagh.

Clarke landed 1-6 of his side’s total last night, his sixth minute goal proving central to his team’s

victory. Armagh led by 1-5 to 0-7 at the break but Cavan swept in front with points from McKiernan and Cullivan on the re-start.

However, with Kieran Toner, now an established Armagh senior player, majestic at midfield, Armagh produced a strong finishing burst and three further Clarke points, coupled with the last score of the game from Shane Carroll,

assured them of their place against Donegal in the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, Tyrone looked sharp in accounting for Antrim by 3-12 to 1-11 with Mattie Donnelly, Kevin Mossey, Seamus Harkin, and Seamus Mulgrew in particularly sharp form.

They teased the Antrim defence and their creativity and finishing proved invaluable assets as Tyrone marched on, but Antrim provided feisty opposition for segments of the match.

And no-one made a better contribution to their cause than C J McGourty who scored 0-6 and might have had more with a better rub of the green. Having impressed for the senior team against Carlow last Sunday, McGourty is very much in the scoring groove right now.

Ulster Under 21 champions Down made a winning start in the defence of their title, overcoming Fermanagh by 2-11 to 2- 8 in Enniskillen.

Down led by a point at half-time but a tenacious Fermanagh side stayed in touch until the closing stages, Down's greater experience just carrying them through to a semi-final meeting with Tyrone.

Derry, meanwhile, surprisingly slipped up against Donegal in Ballybofey where the home team, parading a handful of players who have been coming through at senior level recently, won by 0-12 to 0-6.

Derry's defensive frailties were exposed by a lively Donegal attack that might have chalked up a much higher total had it not been for some wayward finishing.

Derry had James Kielt and Chris McCaigue in their side but they were unable to tip the pendulum in their team's favour in a match in which both teams had goal chances which they were unable to convert.

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