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Dr McKenna Cup: Kieran McGeeney is left fuming as UUJ defeat Armagh

Armagh 1-9 UUJ 2-7

By Pat Smith

Published 14/01/2016

Late show: Ronan McNamee earned UUJ a late victory
Late show: Ronan McNamee earned UUJ a late victory

A superb last-gasp point from Ronan McNamee took UUJ to victory in a pulsating finish to this keenly-contested McKenna Cup tie at the Athletic Grounds.

The students included 11 inter-county players in their line-up and played with considerable panache on occasions but were forced to pull out all the stops as the game ebbed to a close.

Armagh opened brightly with Stefan Forker and Stefan Campbell looping over points but their defensive frailties were evident when Conan Grugan surged through to drill home UUJ's opening goal in the eighth minute.

And Orchard boss Kieran McGeeney did not pull his punches in lamenting his team's vulnerability. He said: "We are short on defenders and it showed. We gave away a soft early goal and our shot selection was not good. We had enough chances, we just did not take them.

"We are giving away too many goals and we have a lot of hard work to do to improve "

When Donegal All-Ireland winner Patrick McBrearty tacked on a point, the students began to show much more cohesion.

And although Eugene McVerry pilfered a point for the home side in the 17th minute, the porous nature of their defence was highlighted again when McBrearty burst clear to pocket a second goal.

At 2-1 to 0-3 UUJ looked much more comfortable but they suffered a setback just before the break when Kieran Hughes limped out of the action to be replaced by Kevin Nolan.

The sides traded further points when Aidan Forker piloted over a long-range effort and the busy McBrearty hit the target for the students to leave them 2-2 to 0-4 ahead at the break.

Armagh reduced the deficit on the resumption when Niall McConville broke forward to hoist over a fine point but Caolan Boyle replied for UUJ.

A Michael McKenna goal took Armagh to within a point of their opponents at 2-4 to 1-6 but the mercurial O'Boyle landed two further points to which Niall Grimley and McConville responded before McNamee stepped into the spotlight.

Armagh: P Morrison; R McCaughley, E McVerry 0-1, N McConville 0-2; S Forker 0-2, C McKeever, A Forker 0-1; O MacIomhair, N Grimley 0-1; R Grugan, M McKenna 1-0, S Campbell 0-1 (f); E Rafferty 0-1, B Donaghy, G McParland. Subs: P McKenna for McVerry (half-time), J Feeney for MacIomhair, S Connell for McParland (51). Yellow cards: A Forker (14), E Rafferty (47)

UUJ: S Fox; G McKinless, R McNamee 0-1, R Johnston; R McHugh, K Clarke, D Savage; M Argue, C Grugan 1-0; R McAnespie, C O'Boyle 0-3, M Walsh; P McBrearty 1-2, N Madine, K Hughes. Subs: K Nolan for Hughes (31), R McGlone 0-1 for McAnespie (49). Yellow: Grugan (12), McNamee (14)

Referee: Ciaran Mooney (Down).

Belfast Telegraph

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