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Turbitt hits double top as McCorry sets sights on Tyrone

Cavan 1-13 Armagh 2-17

Man on: Armagh's Oisin O Neill is pursued by Oisin Kiernan
Man on: Armagh's Oisin O Neill is pursued by Oisin Kiernan
Conor Turbitt
John Campbell

By John Campbell

In what was a relatively straightforward exercise, Armagh got their Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup campaign off on the right foot at the expense of a weak Cavan side at sparsely-populated Kingspan Breffni yesterday.

Ahead at half-time and carrying a greater depth of experience, the Orchard County cemented their dominance after the break but know that bigger challenges lie ahead beginning with the confrontation with Tyrone on Wednesday week.

Armagh assistant manager Jim McCorry said: "Tyrone are the Dr McKenna Cup specialists and this will be a serious test for us. They are comfortable at the Athletic Grounds and they will have players who will be making a strong pitch for regular places.

"We are obviously missing a number of players but the hope is that they will be back for the Allianz League which takes on a greater significance for most sides now because of the implications of the second-tier All-Ireland Football Championship.

"Indeed, not only would we hope that our currently unavailable players will be fully fit for the league but we also want to see the new faces we have introduced making it hard for these boys to regain their places."

With Brendan Donaghy, Aidan Forker, Niall Grimley and Stefan Campbell among those lending a seasoned edge to the line-up, it was nonetheless young guns who fired out an early message.

Clan Eireann player Conor Turbitt marked his senior debut in considerable style by grabbing two goals, Rian O'Neill walked off with the man of the match award after potting seven points (six frees) and Aidan Nugent showed he is already in the process of building on the immense potential he has shown since he was first introduced to the side.

Indeed, it was O'Neill and Nugent who did much to sweep Armagh into their interval lead although Turbitt's first goal in the 24th minute gave the side a 1-9 to 1-6 cushion which they were never to surrender.

Martin Reilly's goal from a 10th-minute penalty offered the suggestion that Cavan might maximise their home advantage but it was to prove a false dawn as a battery of Armagh points in the second quarter propelled them into the ascendency.

Any hopes Cavan might have retained of mounting a recovery mission were effectively ended when the lively Turbitt was on hand to drive in his second goal.

From then on, Armagh held sway and even though substitute Niall Murray ignited a brief spell of Cavan resistance, his subsequent banishment after incurring two yellow cards perhaps underlined the fact that it was not his side's day. Rian O'Neill's penchant to convert long-range frees allied to his ability to drop deep and act as creator as well as finisher posed huge problems for the Cavan defenders, who were unable to shackle the Crossmaglen Rangers dynamo.

Seven points may have separated the sides at the finish but this margin scarcely reflected Armagh's overall composure and authority.

Cavan boss Mickey Graham was candid in his assessment of the home team's performance.

"We know we have loads of things to work on but at the same time you have to recognise that we have a lot of experienced players who were absent from this game," said Graham.

But the former Cavan forward, who was in the 1997 squad that last brought the Ulster title to the county, knows that he is having to face up to a difficult prospect in terms of absenteeism.

Killian Clarke, Dara McVeety and Conor Moynagh, three of the county's elite players, have already made themselves unavailable.

"We have to hope that boys will come through and take their places. We can't be bemoaning our fortune, we just have to get on with it and our next match in the Dr McKenna Cup against Tyrone will provide another stepping stone for the boys that are in there now. We have to show that we can meet the challenge," added Graham, the former all-conquering Mullinalaghta club manager.

Armagh: B Hughes; J McElroy. B Donaghy, A Forker 0-1; M Shields, G McCabe, C O'Neill; N Grimley, O O'Neill 0-3; A Nugent 0-3, S Campbell 0-1, J Hall; C Turbett 2-1, R O'Neill 0-7 (6f), J Duffy 0-1. Subs: J Og Burns for Duffy (56), J Morgan for Hall (58), S Sheridan for C O'Neill (62), C McConville for Shields (68), N Toal for Forker (69). Yellow cards: Campbell (35), Forker (64), Morgan (69).

Cavan: R Galligan; P Meade, P Faulkner, L Fortune; C Brady, B Kelly, O Kiernan; E Fortune, K Monahan; M Reilly 1-3 (1-0 pen), B Magee 0-1, S Smith; R Connolly 0-1 (f), C Madden 0-3, C Smith 0-2. Subs: S Murray for Kelly (9), C Conroy for Monahan (half-time), N Murray 0-2 for S Murray (46), K McKiernan for C Brady (58), L Buchanan 0-1 for Connolly (64). Yellow cards: Reilly (3), E Fortune (14), Madden (64). Red Card: N Murray (67 - Two yellows).

Referee: Niall McKenna (Monaghan).

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