Match Report – Armagh Harps v Cullyhanna

With Shaun Casey

Armagh Harps v Cullyhanna

Senior Championship Quarter Final – 15-09-17

A feisty second half along and some excellent end to end football left the crowd with high expectations for the replay, after Armagh Harps and St Patrick’s Cullyhanna drew on Friday evening in the Athletic Grounds. The Harps seemed to have secured victory with a goal in the 62nd minute, until Aidan Nugent rattled home a penalty a minute later to level the game.

St Pat’s got off to a flying start when Eugene Casey split the posts twice, one point coming from a free. Cullyhanna’s lead was soon stretched to 3 when Jason Duffy intercepted a short kickout before sending the ball over the bar. However his side would not score again until the 29th minute of the opening half.

Conn Stevenson’s turnovers in the Harps defence led to several counter attacks for his team. But they failed to convert these opportunities on the scoreboard. It took centre half back Declan McKenna to get his side off the mark after good work from Joe McElroy who won the Cullyhanna kickout. The Harps purple patch continued, however their shot selection let them down kicking 3 wides in a row.

The Harps full forward line then became more prominent in the final 20 minutes of the first half. Particularly Simon McCoy and Ultan Lennon who scored a point each to level the game at 3 points apiece. Declan McKenna once again came forward to put his side in front. After McCoy won the break ball from Cullyhanna’s kickout.

Lennon extended their lead; with the attack coming from the Harps winning their own kickout. Before an Aidan Nugent point left the minimum between the sides. Lennon and Nugent once again swapped points from dead-balls to leave the score 0-6 to 0-5. The Harps just edging the lead at the half time whistle.

2nd Half

Nugent opened the scoring in the second half with a converted free to level the score. Cullyhanna were reduced to 14 men 3 minutes later after a second yellow card for Gary McCooey gave the Harps the advantage. They made this advantage count instantly with Lennon kicking another 3 points in 6 minutes to give his side some breathing space.

Sean Connell’s outside of the foot effort sailed over the crossbar to bring Cullyhanna back into the game while Eugene Casey’s third point brought S Pat’s back to within one. Two brilliant catches in the middle of the field by Phelim Savage and Jason Duffy helped Cullyhanna reduce the margin. Before a point by substitute Gareth Swift pushed the Harps 2 ahead once more.

The Harps were then down to 14 men themselves when an off the ball incident seen Charlie Vernon getting sent to the line, with a straight red card. This seemed to lift Cullyhanna as Nugent got his fifth point of the evening to bring the margin to one. An inspiration Ciaran McKeever point on the 31st minute seemed to confirm the draw before Harps once again went ahead.

A long ball into the full forward line by Conor White left a scramble in the goal mouth before the ball rolled into the net, with Gareth Swift getting the final touch. This appeared to book the Harps place in the last four. But there would be another twist in the tale before the final whistle. Cullyhanna’s Aidan Nugent sent the keeper the wrong way, coolly dispatching the ball into the back of the Harps net from the penalty spot to level the final score 1-10 each.

Team List

Harps: Patrick Morrison, Sean Farry, Karol Loughran, Conn Stevenson, Rory McGrath, Declan McKenna (0-2), Pauric Rafferty, Josh Loughran, Charlie Vernon, Ryan McShane, Joe McElroy, Tom O’Kane, Conor Murphy, Ultan Lennon (0-6), Simon McCoy (0-1). Subs: Mark McConville for C. Murphy, Gareth Swift (1-1) for P. Rafferty, Conor White for J. Loughran.

Cullyhanna: Conor O’Neill, Colm Hoey, Sean Connell (0-1), Kieran McCooey, Aodhan Conlon, Ciaran McKeever (0-1), Sean Og Irwin, Shane Conlon, Pearse Casey, Phelim Savage, Shea Hoey, Eugene Casey (0-3), Aidan Nugent (1-5), Jason Duffy, Gary McCooey. Subs: Malachy Mackin for S. Conlon, Barry McConville for P. Casey, Kieran Hoey for Shea Hoey, Conor Nugent for A. Conlon, Paudie McCreesh for Kieran McCooey.