Armagh will contest the revamped O’Fiaich Cup final against Derry at Crossmaglen on Sunday following wins against Down and Louth in the first round and semi-final respectively.
The first outing of the new campaign brought a win over the Mourne Men last Thursday night and on Sunday the County lined out their under 21 side which secured a one point win over the ‘Wee County’.
With the so called winter training ban thankfully a thing of the past, Armagh were able to run the rule of several debutants in both games which were hotly contested considering the time of the year.
In the Down game the hosts looked sharp which could indicate a change to the normally in vogue pre-season stamina training.
It was refreshing to see a decent sprinkling of local players lining out for the County over the two games. For the under 21’s St. Peter’s players Michael Gogarty (0-02) and Aaron Findan lined out along side Sarsfields player Paul McGeown (0-03). Clan na Gael half back Dairmaud O’Hagan (0-01) has moved up following a period with the minors and Brendan McCarron from Clann Eireann is also a member of the squad.
In the win over Down the versatile Ruairi Grugan played in an unorthodox half back role, the All Ireland Minor medallist grabbed one of the goals on the night with the second strike delivered by Annaghmore’s impressive debutant Oisin McKeever who registered (1-04).
Armagh welcomed former All Star Andy Mallon back to the fold, the Pearse Ogs man made an appearance in the second half.
On the back of a very impressive season St. Paul’s player Phelim O’Neill lined out at midfield along side Whites man Aaron Findan and both were impressive. St. Peter’s also supplied one of the corner forwards against Down, Niall McConville shot (0-03) from play and also created space for fellow attackers Aidan Forker, Kyle Carragher and the impressive Brian Mallon who orchestrated a lot of the attacks.
In the past it would have been normal to have seen several Clan na Gael players appearing on the same Armagh Senior team, on one occasion during the 70s eleven Blues men pulled on the orange jersey on a day when the Counties lineout was completed by Brian McAlinden from Sarsfields, Wolfe Tones Paddy Moriarty, Peter Loughran from Carrickcruppin and Rangers full back Tom McCreesh.
Lurgan Club St. Paul’s were also well represented on the Armagh team, Jim McCorry, Mickey McDonald, Dennis Seeley, Liam McCorry, Kieran McNally would at one stage have played together for the County.
Sarsfields in the past were represented on the Armagh team by top players like Kieran McGurk, Eamon O’Neill, Dennis Stevenson and Shane Skelton among others, but when St. Peter’s players Niall McConville and Aaron Findan pulled on the jersey against Down last Thursday night were they setting a unique precedent?
It has been gathered former whites players Collie Keegan, Francie Doran and Tom Rodgers all played on the same Armagh Minor team, but have two St. Peter’s men ever played on an Armagh Senior team together?
During the 80s both Lenny Moore and Collie Keegan represented the North Street side on Armagh Senior teams but not on the same day.
It is unlikely both Brian and Seamus McGeown lined out together for the County, but did Mickey and Roland Wilson play on the same day for Armagh? Although St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s were both relegated this season their Armagh squad members Phelim O’Neill, Aaron Findan and Niall McConville have certainly benefited from playing in the top flight.