Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup Round One
Armagh 2-20–2-08 Antrim
Kevin Herron reports from the Athletic Grounds
Antrim’s Dr McKenna Cup campaign got off to a slow start when they were convincingly swept aside by last years All-Ireland Quarter-finalists Armagh at the Athletic Grounds on Wednesday evening.
Conor Turbitt’s 7th minute goal set the tone for the evening for the hosts who led 1-10-0-04 at the break.
Joe Sheridan added a second goal for Armagh early in the second half, though the Saffrons did have a lease of life after the break and claimed two consolation goals through Odhran Eastwood on their way to a 2-20 to 2-08 defeat.
It took five minutes for the hosts to break through the packed Antrim defence with Tiarnan Kelly dropping a shot over the bar.
Shane McPartland swung over the second and the opening goal of the game arrived shortly after when Aidan Nugent slipped in Conor Turbitt to finish to the net and make it 1-02-0-00.
It took Antrim 11 minutes to find a response in the form of a Colm Duffin free, but Armagh responded with five unanswered points to extend their lead.
Eoin Woods and Conor O’Neill popped over scores from play and Aidan Nugent chipped in with two converted frees.
In-between times Conor Turbitt should have doubled his goal tally for the evening- though Mick Byrne did well to turn his shot over the bar at the expense of a point.
Dominic McEnhill swung over the Saffrons second point of the half from a free, however the hosts continued to make the most of their potent attack.
Turbitt claimed a mark and converted for his second point of the evening, a third converted free from Aidan O’Neill followed and Jarly Og Burns should have hit the Orchard county’s second major of the half- though he ran out to momentum and his tame effort was parried by Byrne.
Ryan Murray and McEnhill added two frees before the half was out – with Niall McConville adding an advanced mark in between times for the hosts – who took a convincing 1-10-0-04 lead in at the interval.
Antrim were first off the mark after the break as Dominic McEnhill kicked his third of the evening, this time from an advanced mark.
Barry McCambridge responded at the other end and half-time substitutes Justin Kieran and Cian McConville also chipped in with points to join the ever-expanding scoring list.
On 43 minutes Armagh hit their second goal of the evening and it was another of their half time changes that made an impact.
Joe Sheridan burst through and slammed his low effort off the post and into the opposite corner to give the Orchard men a 2-13-0-05 lead.
With just over twenty minutes remaining Antrim substitute Odhran Eastwood pulled a goal back from close range and Dermot McAleese landed a point in the aftermath.
Three points in a row followed from the hosts, Cian McConville added another two to his tally to make it three from his half time introduction and Jemar Hall dropped over a fine angled effort.
Dominic McEnhill brought his individual tally to 0-05 with another two converted frees in response.
Goal scorer Sheridan then fisted over, and Niall Smyth had the chance to add his sides third goal, but he opted to point instead.
Antrim claimed a second consolation goal with two minutes of normal time remaining. Substitute Patrick Finnegan claimed a high angled pass and saw his shot cannon off the bar- only for Odhran Eastwood to slide home the loose ball for his second score of the half.
That was to be the Saffrons final contribution of evening, although Armagh finished with further points from Niall McConville and Stefan Campbell to wrap up a convincing 2-20-2-08 win at the conclusion.
Armagh: E Rafferty, P Burns, A Forker, R O’Finn, C O’Neill (0-01), B McCambridge, J Og Burns, N Grimley, S Sheridan, E Woods (0-01), A Nugent (0-03, 0-02F), T Kelly (0-01), C Turbitt (1-02, 0-01m), N McConville (0-02, 0-01m), S McPartland (0-01). Subs: S Campbell (0-01) for C Turbitt (HT), J Kieran (0-01) for T Kelly (HT), N Smyth (0-01) for C O’Neill (HT), C Cumiskey for J Og Burns (HT), T McCormack for C Grimley (HT), S Magill for E Rafferty (HT), L Rice for P Burns (HT), P McGrane for A Forker (HT), C Higgins for S Sheridan (HT), J Sheridan (1-01) for E Woods (HT), J Hall (0-01) for A Nugent (HT), C McConville (0-03) for R Finn (HT), C Grimley for B McCambridge (51), O Conarty for N McConville (51), K Doyle for S McPartland (53), N McConville for C McConville (65).
Antrim: M Byrne, P McBride, C Hynds, P Mervyn, D McAleese (0-01), J Finnegan, R Boyle, J Dowling, O Lenehan, M Jordan, C Duffin (0-01f), C Stewart, R Murray (0-01f), K Small, D McEnhill (0-05, 0-04f, 0-01m). Subs: P Finnegan for R Boyle (29), E McCabe for M Jordan (29), S McGarry for J Dowling (33), P Shivers for P Mervyn (43), O Eastwood (2-00) for R Murray (43), J McAuley for J Finnegan (43), P McCormack for D McAleese (55), C Higgins for C Duffin (55), S O’Neill for C Stewart (55), C McGirr for C Hynds (60), R Hanna for M Byrne (60).