Derry defeat Armagh to breath life into Christy Ring bid

Derry manager Collie McGurk
Derry manager Collie McGurk

Christy Ring Cup, Group Two, Round Two

Armagh 1-14, Derry 2-30

Derry bounced back into Christy Ring contention after a emphatic second half display brought an emphatic 19-points victory over an Armagh side that looked set for relegation.

All Derry eyes will now shift to Ruislip tomorrow where London, who beat the Oak Leafers last week, entertain Down with Derry hoping for a home victory. That would set up a winner take all clash with the Mourne men in two weeks time. A Down win and Derry will be relying on score difference even if they beat Down in two weeks time with London facing Armagh in their finale Group Two clash.

Alan Grant (0-7), Mehaul McGrath (1-3) and Brian Cassidy (0-6) were the top Derry scorers with Naoise Waldron grabbing a second half goal that signalled the opening of the floodgates.

Ironcially Derry started very lethargically, struggling to string passes together in the bright Althletic Gounds sunshine. McGurk's men were facing into a considerable wind that didn't fully explain a flat opening in which the hosts should have been further ahead.

Eight first half wides spoke to how wasteful Armagh had been and while Derry improved as the half wore on, the Orchard County will have been very disappointed to go in leading by only four at the break on 1-12 to 1-08.

Alan Grant replaced Cormac O'Doherty from the Derry team that was named midweek but even with Chrissy McKaigue and Brendan Rogers absent from the side the lost to London seven days earlier, it was still a strong looking Derry team.

Cormac McKenna was the Oak Leaf sweeper and he had plenty to do as it would be 15 minutes before Derry registered their first score from play, the wind allowing Armagh to drop ball into the Danger area at will.

In contrast to Derry's struggles, Armagh were on the scoreboard inside two minutes but as the shots reigned in , the wide count went up with them.

David McCreesh got that opener and despite Alan Grant levelling from a free, Derry found themselves 1-4 to 0-1 behind inside 11 minutes. Dylan McKenna and Eoin McGuinness grabbed Orchard scores before Stephen Renaghan produced a moment of brilliance to find the Derry net. Doing well to keep the ball in along the right touchline, he turned Sean Cassidy before bursting forward, flicking the ball over a second defender and finishing it superbly on the bounce.

Caolan Rice tagged on a point before Cassidy grabbed that first Derry score from play. McCreesh brought it to 1-05 to 0-2 but Derry responded in style with Paul Cleary finding enough space to rifle a shot to the net to bring his side back into the game.

From there to the break it was tit-for tat, Derry missing a couple of gilt edged goal chances and Armagh never really capitalising on some good positions as the sides turned around at 1-12 to 1-08.

The first half suggested Derry had work to do in the second period but no one expected them to do it within four minutes as a four points deficit became a two point lead before the clock had hit 40 minutes.

Points from Cleary, Se McGuigan, Grant (2), Cassidy (free) and Mark McGuigan signalled the shift of fortune and once ahead, it was only ever a matter of how many McGurk's team would win by.

They were already 1-16 to 1-13 ahead when Naoise Waldron collected a pass at pace, strode forward and smashed a superb high finish across Armagh keeper Simon Doherty and into the top corner.

From that point the Oak Leaf scores began to rain in. Armagh managed only two second half points, through Renaghan and Nathan Curry, but they were lost amid a red and white barrage that kept play almost exclusively in the home half.

With score difference possibly playing a part in deciding the top two place in the Group there was never any chance of Derry easing up and the ruthless nature with which they went through the gears was a welcome tonic after last week's surprise defeat in Ballinascreen.

Every Oak Leaf forward was on the scoreboard, as was Gerard Bradley who had moved inside at half-time. They probably should have had more goals but were guilty of trying to walk the ball in at times and McGurk will hope those miss chances don't prove the difference between qualifying and not.

Armagh: Simon Doherty; Odhran Curry, Paul Gaffney, Aaron Fox; Conleth Lavery, Ciaran Clifford, John Corvan (0-1); Nathan Curry (0-1, 1f), Paddy McGrane; Dylan McKenna (0-1), Caolan Rice (0-2), David McCreesh (0-5); Stephen Renaghan (1-1), Eoin McGuinness (0-1), Dean Gaffney (0-1, 1f).

(Substitutes) Shaun Toal (0-1) for C Lavery, 22mins; Barry Shortt for C Rice, 53mins; Danny Magee for D McKenna, 58mins; Conor McAnallen for D McCreesh, 64mins; David Grant for P McGrane, 68mins;

Derry: Michael Kilpatrick; Darragh McCloskey, Sean Cassidy, Niall Farren, Eamonn McGill, Cormac McKenna, Paul Cleary (0-1); Mark McGuigan (0-2), Gerard Bradley (0-2); Alan Grant (0-7, 4f,1 sixty-five), Mehaul McGrath (1-3), Cian Waldron (0-2); Naoise Waldron (1-1), Se McGuigan (0-4), Brian Cassidy (0-6, 2f).

(Substitutes) Jack Phelan for E McGill, HT; Liam Murphy for S McGuigan, 54mins; Darragh Cartin (0-2) for D McCloskey, 58mins; Conor McCrystal for M Kirkpatrick, 62mins; Tim Rankin for N Waldron, 67mins;

Referee: Liam Gordon (Galway)