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McCorry lays it firmly on the line as Armagh pride is dented

Armagh 1-14 Cork 3-9

Consolation: Rory Grugan was on target for Armagh
Consolation: Rory Grugan was on target for Armagh
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Armagh's hopes of ending their Division Two Allianz Football League campaign on a high note were dashed at the Athletic Grounds yesterday where Cork prevailed in a grandstand finish.

But the Rebel county's efforts ultimately came to nothing because of Clare's win over Tipperary which sent Ronan McCarthy's side plummeting into Division Three for the first time in their history.

From an Armagh perspective this was a setback of sorts going into the Ulster Championship, a fact underlined by assistant manager Jim McCorry.

"We fell victims to sucker punches for two early goals and I thought our first-half performance was very lethargic," said McCorry. "We did not really play in the manner in which we have been doing up until now but we showed better cohesion after the break.

"There seemed to be the attitude that because we really had nothing to play for we didn't need the points but we certainly had something to play for in terms in pride for the county."

A whirlwind Cork start saw them romp into a 2- 3 to 0-1 lead with just twelve minutes gone, the Armagh defence looking particularly vulnerable against their visitors' pace and penetration.

Even by the half-way stage Cork still held the upper hand and led by 2-6 to 0-6 without Armagh having hinted that they might engage top gear.

But the home side did manage to show an improvement after the break. With Rory Grugan and Rian O'Neill to the fore in attack, the home side managed to whip over six points with their opponents only managing one in response. But just as they got to within one point of Cork, Armagh conceded a third goal when Kevin Crowley finished off one of the moves of the match, thundering the ball home.

A Grugan point, though, levelled matters at 3-7 to 1-13 yet not for the first time this year Armagh failed to close out the game.

Instead Cork substitute Cian Kiely gave his side the lead and with Armagh losing Ethan Rafferty to a black card, the visitors went on to press home their numerical advantage.

It was another substitute, the lively Damian Gore, who had the final say when he whisked over Cork's last point to leave Armagh on the floor - not the outcome they had hoped for considering that their next scheduled match is the Ulster Championship meeting with Down.

And it was in this context that Jim McCorry flashed a warning to the Armagh players.

"There are obviously places up for grabs not just in the team but in the squad because we are carrying a big panel," pointed out McCorry. "There is an awful lot to play for even though maybe this was not always in evidence in this particular game."

"I think it subconsciously seeps in that maybe we needed the points more against Fermanagh last week-end but it was clear that the guys who are coming back from injury had the right hunger."

"Ethan Rafferty was driving hard throughout the game while Paddy Burns who has been out for some time looked very impressive."

"I thought too that Pearse Casey at full-forward played really well."

"I think a number of guys must examine their form coming up to championship time and maybe this is the kick on the rear end that we need when you think about it."

Armagh: B Hughes; P Burns, J McElroy 0-1, P Hughes; R Kennedy, B Donaghy, A Forker 0-1; J Og Burns 0-1, N Grimley 0-1 (f); R Grugan 0-5 (4f), C Vernon, J Hall 0-1; E Rafferty, P Casey 0-1, S Campbell. Subs: J Clarke 1-0 for Campbell (29), R O'Neill 0-3 (2f), J Morgan for Hughes (50), A Nugent for Casey (58).

Cork: M White; K Flahive, T Clancy, C Dennehy; K Crowley 1-0, T Clancy, M Taylor: I Maguire, C O'Hanlon; E McSweeney 0-2, J. O'Rourke 0-1, R Deane; B Hurley 2-1, M Collins 0-2 (1f), S White. Subs: K O'Driscoll for O'Rourke (26), C Kiely 0-2 for Taylor (h/t), D Gore 0-1 for Hurley (48), P Kelleher for McSweeney (65), S Cronin for Walsh (73).

Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois).

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