Allianz NFL – Armagh v Derry (Sunday - 2pm – Athletic Grounds)
UNCERTAINTY STILL HANGS IN
THE AIR ON FINAL DAY
When Derry saw off Cavan for a second successive win in Breffni Park a promotion race was in the early stages. In the back of the mind we knew it was an unforgiving league but we didn’t think it would be Derry’s last win.
In the interim Derry were blitzed by the direct running of Tyrone and Galway, both games that could have saw heavier defeats for the Oakleafers.
After that came two high scoring encounters against Laois and Meath. They were entertaining but Derry need more stability in their play. The attacking flair is all very well but leaking goals have offset any scoring.
Over the six outings so far 26 different players have started for Derry, with Danny Heavron, Gareth McKinless and the McKaigues the only players to have been selected to start every game.
The main scoring threat has come from Ryan Bell (1-15), James Kielt (0-17), Mark Lynch (2-8) and Christopher Bradley (2-7) over the campaign so far.
On average Derry are scoring 2-12 per game but are leaking an average of 1-14 and this is reflected on the league table with two wins, two draws and two defeats.
As the Derry camp prepare for this weekend’s game they will be striving for a victory that will quash any relegation fears and get a positive vibe going forward into the championship.
Consistency will be something the management will be concerned about after a mixed bag of performances and so far a settled team hasn’t been established.
The running power of Enda Lynn and Ciaran McFaul has been sorely missed in recent weeks. Both men are crucial in the quick transition from defence to launch counter attacks.
Liam McGoldrick played in the opening McKenna Cup game and was back among the substitutes last weekend. Speaking after Sunday’s draw Tony Scullion gave an update on the injury list.
“Dermot McBride has got good news compared with what he was getting. A couple of weeks and he will be back out onto the field again and we’re hoping he’ll be ready for the championship.”
Last season Kevin Johnston was carried off in the championship clash with Donegal. “Kevin will tick every box to get himself fit again. He’s a great, great lad and he is back out on the field and playing in house matches with us so he’ll be ready to go in the next couple or three weeks.”
After two weeks away from the Ulster minefield Scullion outlined the challenge this weekend. “We’ve had great battles with Armagh down the years and they are great team. They play with great heart, they play with great passion and Kieran McGeeney will bring the best out of Armagh.”
With promotion off the radar Scullion eyes this weekend’s game as perfect championship preparation.
“It’s a great challenge for us because at the end of the day we are preparing now for the 22nd May and the championship against Tyrone. What better preparation could you get for the championship than playing Armagh in the Athletic Grounds?
NFL – Story so Far
· Derry 3-13 Fermanagh 1-10
· Cavan 1-11 Derry 1-12
· Derry 2-12 Galway 1-18
· Tyrone 2-15 Derry 0-12
· Laois 1-22 Derry 5-10
· Derry 2-12 Meath 2-12
· Meath 1-10 Armagh 0-8
· Armagh 0-15 Laois 1-13
· Armagh 1-10 Fermanagh 0-12
· Cavan 3-18 Armagh 0-10
· Armagh 1-15 Galway 1-15
· Tyrone 0-13 Armagh 1-10
PREVIOUS MEETING – Saturday 9th March 2013 (Celtic Park)
NFL DIV 2 – Derry 0-16 Armagh 0-16
Derry were held in an exciting draw by Armagh in Celtic Park played at a high intensity.
Derry led 0-7 to 0-5 but a quick-fire start to the second half brought four Armagh points as they took the lead during the third quarter.
With ten minutes to go Derry edged in front with points from Lee Kennedy, Danny Heavron and Enda Lynn.
Once again Armagh battled back with Jamie Clarke helping them back on level terms.
The Oakleafers could have snatched a win late on the game with late efforts from James Kielt and Mark Lynch but in the end the Derry men had to be happy with a draw.
Derry: Thomas Mallon, Gerard O’Kane, Chrissy McKaigue, Dermot McBride, Charlie Kielt (0-1), Mark Lynch (0-1), Sean Leo McGoldrick, Patsy Bradley, PJ McCloskey, Danny Heavron (0-1), James Kielt (0-8), Enda Lynn (0-1), Benny Heron, Emmett McGuckin (0-1), Lee Kennedy (0-3).
Subs: Raymond Wilkinson for E McGuckin (54), Ciaran McFaul for B Heron (61).
Armagh: Philip McEvoy, James Morgan, James Donnelly, Declan McKenna (0-1), Aaron Kernan (0-3), Brendan Donaghy, Ciaran McKeever, James Lavery, Stephen Harold (0-1), Kevin Dyas (0-1), Johnny Hanratty (0-1), Caolan Rafferty, Jamie Clarke (0-3), Stefan Forker (0-2), Gavin McParland (0-3).
Subs: Mark Shields for J Morgan (42), Gary McCory for J Donnelly (45), Anto Duffy (0-1) for C McKeever (49), Tony Kernan for J Hanratty (59), Brian Mallon for A Kernan (64).