Armagh 2-20, Derry 3-13
Derry’s senior footballers began their season with a high-scoring 2-20 to 3-13 defeat to Armagh in the annual O’Fiaich Cup played at St Oliver Plunkett’s Park in Crossmaglen.
Despite only using a handful of senior panelists in the 26-man match day panel comprised mainly of Under 21 players, the Oakleaf youngsters took a four point lead into half time thanks to fine performances from Niall Loughlin and Danny Tallon up front - the latter providing an assist for a Barry Grant goal towards the end of the first half.
With manager Damian Barton making seven half time substitutions, the more experienced Orchard men gradually got on top in the second half despite goals from Lavey’s Niall Toner and 2016 Derry minor, Conor Doherty.
“Danny Tallon I thought was brilliant in the first half,” said Barton after the game. “Unfortunately we had to play him a bit deeper in the second half but we had a plethora of guys on there from the academy squad or the under 21s and that’s their first exposure to senior football...that’s what this competition and this time of year are all about - giving people football.” he said.
With Derry drawn against QUB, Down and Armagh in the McKenna Cup, Barton will be hoping to call upon more experienced players who are now back in pre-season training such as Enda Lynn, Danny Heavron and Mark Lynch. The Oakleafers will be without their Slaughtneil contingent of course, with the south Derry club contesting the All-Ireland club hurling semi-final.
The Emmets travel to London this week in an attempt to reach the final four of the football championship against St Kiernan’s at Greenford this Sunday at 1pm.
Armagh: P Morrison; R McCaughey, B Donaghy, P Hughes; N Rowland, S Heffron, J McElroy 1-0; B Crealey, E Rafferty 0-2, 1f, 1x’45’; R Grugan 0-2, 1f, C White, A Forker 1-2; O O’Neill 5, 2f, P Casey 0-2, O MacIomhair 0-4
Subs: S McCoy for Rowland (27), S Campbell 0-1 for White (half-time), G McParland for Casey (54), S Sheridan for Rafferty (54), D McKenna for Crealey A Duffy for MacIomhair (64),
Yellow cards: Grugan (57)
Black cards: Hughes (15m), replaced by C Higgins 0-2
Red cards: 0
Derry: B McKinless; C McGrogan, M McEvoy, N Keenan; P Coney, C McWilliams 0-2, N Forester; A McLaughlin, J Kielt 0-2f; J Doherty 0-1, R Bell, M Warnock 0-1; B Grant 1-0, N Loughlin 0-4, 3f, D Tallon 0-2. Subs: R Murphy for Coney (20), C Mullen Young for McKinless, F Higgins for Doherty, D Curran 0-1f for Bell, N Toner 1-0 for Warnock, F Kearney for Grant, P Hagan for Forester, C Maunsell for Keenan (all half-time), O Duffin for McGrogan (45)
Yellow cards: R Murphy (33)
Black cards: J Kielt (41), replaced by C Doherty 1-0
Red cards: 0
Referee: Martin McNally (Monaghan)