IRRESPECTIVE of the excitement and drama surrounding the ruthless efficiency showed by Donegal at Croke Park, nearer to home the Armagh club scene has no shortage of stories and events to whet the appetite and what can only be described as any reporter’s dream is unfolding as the leagues and the championships in the county reach their most intriguing stages.
Firstly, congratulations must be forwarded to the Wolfe Tones under-14 team who beat their country rivals Sarsfields last Saturday at the Athletic Grounds in the all-county Division Two final. The Derrymacash senior side, in defeating Grange last Friday night, have set up an Intermediate Championship semi-final with local rivals St. Peter’s who registered the result of the weekend hitting 21 points against Silverbridge in their semi.
It would be difficult for even the most fervent St. Peter’s supporter to pick a man of the match from their side in last wekend’s IFC win over a fancied Silverbridge side; the Whites started the game in whirlwind fashion with their talisman Niall McConville leading the charge. Sam Marshall was an end to end player on the day, covering every blade of grass and Paul Brady’s influence at midfield took an amount of pressure off his partner Aaron Finden while Darren Moore had one of his best outings for a while. St. Paul’s were also in action but, despite showing great commitment, they went out of the Championship to a Steven McDonnell-powered Killeavey side.
The Whites’ Intermediate semi-final opponents Wolfe Tones showed great tenacity coming from behind to beat Grange at Clann Éireann park last friday night, the ‘Cash men can reinvent their season should they reach the final. At the weekend, they came from behind in difficult conditions to reach the last four with James Doyle the goal scorer on the night. Sean Smyth hit three points in the win, Adam McKeever and Finnian Moriarity, who had an outstanding game, got a brace each and Ruairi McCaughley and David Heaney also got on the score sheet.
There were also two very interesting results in Division One where Sarsfields had eight points to spare over their Championship opponents Carrickcruppin who have been thrown back into the relegation mix as Clan na Gael are currently showing some late season form which has resulted in league wins over Cullaville and last Sunday against Ballymacnab, who recently beat the Blues in the Senior Championship.
Clan na Gael deserve credit for their away win against Ballymacnab and if the Blues can secure a win against derby rivals Clann Éireann at the weekend, their relegation worries could ease. Against the ‘Nab, a goal from the evergreen Paul O’Hagan grabbed both points; the Francis Street side had been four-nil up in the first quarter but the home side clawed them back to go in front before after the break. With Barry O’Hagan and Stephan Campbell on top form, the Clans upped the ante and hit a goal and six without reply to grap a one point win.
At Derrytrasna, Sarsfields had a comfortable 2-16 to 2-7 win over their championship opponents Carrickcruppin who had Billy-Joe Padden, Paul Keenan and Steven Howard lining out. Although both teams will have stronger sides when they meet in the Gerry Fegan cup, the Hoops a on current form, even considering the long lay off, would have an even money chance of reaching the Championship semi final. The Sarsfields goals came from Paul Magee in the first half and a Johnny Reynolds penalty in the second, point-scoring was shared all over the field with defenders like Darren Breen and Ciaran Kerr, who had an excellent game, chipping in. The ‘Trasna outfit look destined to top the lower section of Division One which would involve a play-off in the shield competition.
If all of this is not enough, the clash of Crossmaglen and Maghery this weekend in the Championship would certainly be a must for the neutrals. Although several local clubs will be involved in crucial games over the next couple of weeks, all eyes will be on the pending clash of Division One league leaders Maghery who play All-Ireland champions Crosmaglen in first quarter-final of the Senior Championship.