Armagh gutted as O’Connor steals it
City of Derry 19 Armagh 17
City of Derry hero Mark O’Connor admitted that Armagh must be sick of having to deal with his last gasp efforts after seizing the AIB Junior Cup crown with a classic smash and grab job at Dubarry Park.
The hero winger, who tied the game with a try in the sixth minute of stoppage time and then won the title with a touchline conversion, revealed this was the second time he did this to Armagh.
“The last time I had a last kick to win the game was against Armagh in the Ulster league last year,” O’Connor said.
“I feel sorry for Armagh, no-one deserved to lose, it was a brilliant game but lucky enough for us we managed it in the end.”
IRFU president John Callaghan — the first Armagh RFC to hold the position — was within seconds of presenting a first All-Ireland title to his own club when their dream was shattered on Saturday in Athlone.
Indeed, had City of Derry full-back Peter Henderson not managed to make a remarkable tackle to deny Matthew Irwin a second try in the dying moments, then Armagh would have sailed home.
But they failed to defend a 17-12 lead as the game slipped into the sixth minute of stoppage time when replacement hooker Jason Mitchell whipped a pass wide for Mark O’Connor to burst through and go over at the right corner for City of Derry.
That tied the match and extra-time seemed inevitable but O’Connor, who had only landed one from four kicks prior to that, kept his nerve to steer the ball between the posts from the touchline to seal a first ever crown.
City of Derry led 12-10 at the break thanks to tries from Andrew Semple after five minutes and a converted effort from Richard McCarter ten minutes from the break.
Armagh enjoyed plenty of possession but had to be content with three penalties from Adam Gowing, who landed a fourth following Irwin’s touchdown in the second-half.
City of Derry: Henderson; O’Connor, Funston, Bennett, Moore; McCarter, Semple; Witherow, McAuley, Duffy; Houston, McKillop; Gemmell, Corr, Walker.
Replacements: Mitchell for McAuley, 71 mins; Brady for McKillop, 71 mins; Simms for Walker, 77 mins.
Armagh: Steenson; Allen, Manu, Elliott, Irwin; Gowing, Wright; Patterson, Johnston, Hopps; Hill, Morton; J Clarke, T Clarke, Hughes.
Replacements: Martin for T Clarke, 76 mins; Merser for Johnson, 80 mins.
Referee: R. Phillips (IRFU).