Derry minors net opening win in Ulster Championship

Ulster Minor Football Championship

Derry 5-10
Armagh 2-6

By Michael McMullan

THREE goals in as many minutes was enough to power Derry minors into unassailable interval half-time lead and into the next round of the championship.

Martin Boyle’s side created seven goals chances in all and never looked in any danger.

Eoin Higgins, Shea Birt and Cahir Spiers fired over early points before Armagh got their first score after nine minutes from a Dara McCloskey free.

Midway through the first-half, Derry were awarded a close-range free which Ryan McNicholl kicked to Ciaran Chambers who hammered to the back of the net.

With Fionn McEldowney defending well and ferrying the ball forward, Derry were the more efficient team, carrying their fine form from the Ulster League final defeat to Tyrone.

Armagh got themselves back into contention with a 23th minute goal. Pádraig O’Keefe’s diagonal ball bounced under James Murray and Dara McCloskey made no mistake from close range.

Derry’s response was instant.  A shot kick-out from Ben O’Connor get them rolling and Eoin Higgins finished the move with a neat shot to the net.

Ryan McNicholl and Dara McPeake added goals to put Derry 4-5 to 1-2 ahead by half-time.

The Oakleafers had a cushion and were never going to be reeled in. Ruairi Forbes and Johnny McGuckian combined for Ciaran Chambers to apply an easy finish for Derry’s fifth goal with eight minutes to go.

Armagh did manage a consolation when Aaron O’Neill’s probing cross was punched home by McSorley.

Derry now join Antrim, Donegal and Tyrone in the winners section for the next round.

Derry: B O’Connor; E Scullion, J Murray, F McEldowney; O Crozier, D McDermott, S Birt (0-2); D McPeake (1-0), R Forbes (0-1); J McGuckian, R McNicholl (1-1, 1f), C Spiers (0-2); E Higgins (1-4, 1f), C Chambers (2-0), O Murphy
Subs: C Higgins for O Murphy (37), A Donnelly for O Crozier (51), C Downey for C Chambers (54), P McMullan for S Birt (56), E McCracken for C Spiers (62)

Armagh: S Murphy; K Grant, O Sweeney, F McKee; C O’Neill (0-1), R McGahan, T McDonald; M McSorley (1-0), O Callaghan; D McNulty, A O’Neill, R Duffy; C O’Hare, D McCluskey (1-4, 4f), J Austin
Subs: P O’Keefe (0-1) for O Callaghan (23), F Nolan for R McGahan (33), S McCann for R Duffy (40), A Haughey for D McNulty (46), S Hamill for J Austin (54)

Referee: C Curran (Down)

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