Armagh got off to a fling start in their Ulster U21 Championship campaign with a massive morale boosting victory over Antrim at the Athletic Grounds on Sunday.
Antrim made a lively start to the game, Ruari Scott gave them an early lead with a free kick after the dangerous looking Matthew Fitzpatrick was dragged to the ground, 20 yards from goal.
Patrick McAleer helped them restore that lead on the 5th minute after a point from Donal O’Neill, but that proved to be their last score up until the 24th minute.
Ciaron O’Hanlon and Ethan Rafferty helped Armagh take control of the game in midfield, the pair were pivotal in helping their side strike six points in seven minutes.
Points from Niall Grimley, Connaire Mackin, Aiden Nugent, Ciaron O’Hanlon and two from the impressive Ryan McShane helped them stretch into a 0-07 to 0-02 lead.
Antrim really began to struggle with Armagh’s defence, which was quite surprising after their long ball tactics went well in the opening minutes, it took four constant minutes of pressure to get that third point on the board, with Dermot McAllen converting from 30 yards.
Armagh went in at the break with a ten point lead, Ryan McShane fisted a goal just after Ethan Rafferty struck a long range free just before the half time whistle.
The game was completely killed off in the opening minutes of the second half, Niall Grimley fisted in a second goal for the Orchard County and Aiden Nugent grabbed a point seconds later to make it 2-11 to 0-03.
Antrim’s stand out moment of the game arrived on the 48th minute. Dermot McAleese showed great hunger and determination when he sprung straight back to his feet after being brought down 13 yards from goal, the half forward caught Blaine Hughes by surprise when he struck the ball right into the top corner.
Jack Grugan grabbed Armagh’s final score of the game which secured the 2-13 to 1-05 victory. Armagh will go marching into their semi-final clash with Tyrone with great momentum after this prevailing performance.
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