By Shaun Casey
ARMAGH were routine winners over Antrim in the preliminary round of the Ulster Championship, sending them through to a mouth-watering quarter-final encounter with Cavan in two weeks’ time.
From start to finish, Kieran McGeeney’s side dominated the tussle, bursting out of the traps to strike the first five scores of the game and they never looked back.
Experienced defender Aidan Forker, who picked up Antrim target man Pat Shivers last Saturday, was pleased with how his side performed, following their relegation to Division Two just two weeks ago.
“It was more than a run-out I would say,” suggested the Maghery clubman.
“It was like the league, we tried to set our stall out and have a cut at it and play good football and play football the right way I suppose.
“So, we were happy, we went out with the intention of playing with a decent tempo, hoping that they would struggle with it and that probably proved that way.
“We know it will be a big step up the next time around (against Cavan),so it is great to get back to winning ways and there is a lot of positives with a few boys coming back.
“The next time around I am sure there will be more boys pushing and it really does a lot for the competitiveness of the group.”
Injuries ruled out star forwards Rian O’Neill and Andrew Murnin, while attack-minded wing half-back Jarly Og Burns was unavailable through illness, it provided the opportunities for some lesser-known lights to put up their hands.
Shane McPartlan was one of the standout performers, scoring 0-4 from play on his championship debut, while Conor Turbitt carried most of the scoring burden in the forward line and finished with 0-8 along with the Man of the Match award.
“I knew it was in them, I was really excited to see the likes of Shane today because he is pushing really hard and he is a real handful in training.
“I know that first hand, he was waiting in the wings there for a long time and I was really excited to see him, and I knew he could deliver for us, and he really did today.
“Ben (Crealey), you know what you get with him. I am really happy with those boys coming in and the boys coming back from injury will definitely get it tight, because those boys will not give it up too easily over the next six or seven sessions or whatever it may be.”
Forker also made a point of sending
his best wishes to young Lilly Mulholland, who is suffering from a serious illness.
“You can talk about football battles but there is a wee girl, friends of ours who took really sick last Sunday, so I would like to mention Lilly Mulholland.
“She took ill and she was in for surgery on Tuesday, so the Armagh squad as a group are thinking of Lilly and her family, supporting them and sending all the good vibes towards them.”