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Tuesday 26 September 2017

Farney next as Orchard pluck Derry

Paddy O'Rourke's new-look Armagh side will have better days than this, but they didn't need to hit top form to inflict a first Celtic Park championship defeat on Derry in 16 years.

Jamie Clarke's late goal was crucial, but Derry were made to pay a heavy price for Eoin Bradley's dismissal and a missed penalty by skipper Gerard O'Kane, whose kick was saved by Paul Hearty, both incidents coming late in the game.

The Orchard men will fancy themselves in a first round clash with Monaghan, but for the Oak Leafers the future is more fraught with yet another precarious trip through the qualifiers to be negotiated.

"We're delighted with the workrate and the effort boys have put in, but composure and using the ball a bit better is something we're going to have to work for as the year goes on," said Armagh's Aaron Kernan.

"We're more relaxed than we have been over the past few years but I think it's the fact that we know when to work hard; we know when to step it up.



frustrated

"I think we're all in the same mind-frame that we can do that now once it comes to the big games."

Kernan earned an All Star as a wing back, but new manager O'Rourke has moulded him into a playmaker this year, a role he admits he is still getting to grips with.

"It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be," he added.

"I did think it was something that I might have been able to adapt to pretty quickly, but it has taken me a long time.

"There's a lot I could work on, but I'm trying as hard as I can.

"I know I'm making mistakes and I get frustrated making mistakes, but the players are happy enough, Paddy is happy enough, and I suppose that's all that really matters at the end of the day.

"Hopefully we'll have a few more games and a bit of a run in the summer, and maybe I can improve on it a bit."

And with Monaghan next up in a first round game on June 6, the Crossmaglen man is looking forward to the challenge.

"We knew when the draw was made last November," he said.

"You're from Ulster, you're not going to get an easy game, so there's no point in crying about it now.

"It's another great game to look forward to.

"They're not going to fear us at all, but I'd like to think that we're a new team and a new set-up now, and we'll take belief from this display."

Derry boss Damien Cassidy, who has seen relegation followed by a failure to get over this preliminary round championship hurdle, admitted that his side has plenty to work on.

"I'm disappointed that we didn't really perform in the second half, whenever the game was still up for grabs," he said.

"At half-time it was all square. When we scored the goal we were three points up and we should really have defended that lead going into half-time.

"We committed a lot of fouls that were really unnecessary, and (Steven) McDonnell punished us on them, and second half we just didn't perform the way you want to see a team play.

"Two points in the second half was a poor reflection of the preparation and work we put into the game."

A tame first half came to life, only briefly, when Paddy Bradley dived to punch Fergal Doherty's cross to the net at the far post, to finally put daylight between the teams for the first time.

The sides had already been level four times, with Bradley and Mark Lynch on target for the home side, and McDonnell and Kernan hitting the mark at the other end.

It was McDonnell who kicked four points late in the half to tie it up at 1-5 to 0-8, before the excellent Charlie Vernon gave Armagh the lead for the first time two minutes into the second half. Clarke came off the bench to slot home a goal from McDonnell's right wing delivery in the 56th minute, and it was clear this was to be Armagh's day. Eoin Bradley's second booking reduced Derry to 14 men with 15 minutes to play, but they were handed a lifeline when Finian Moriarity's rash challenge on Paddy Bradley earned a penalty. However, Hearty came to the rescue with a splendid save (though he did move off his line before the kick ), as the Oak Leaf challenge fizzled out.

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