By Shaun Casey
ARMAGH teams don’t have a great record in the Ulster Intermediate Championship, but Cullyhanna have a chance to set that record straight.
Five teams hailing from the Orchard County have reached the decider in the last 25 years of the competition, but no club from Armagh has ever won the title.
Cullyhanna aren’t looking that far ahead of course, as manager Stephen Reel points out, and they’re happy to just take it one game at a time ahead of their semi-final date with Liatroim.
“We definitely didn’t look past the first game because traditionally, Armagh teams don’t do well in Ulster and Cullyhanna don’t either,” said Reel. “That last time we won the Intermediate, we didn’t progress past the first round.
“So, we’re just glad to have that (Pomeroy) game over us, that was a big game for us for loads of reasons. We don’t know a lot about Liatroim, but it’ll be another battle no doubt.”
A last-minute Aidan Nugent free saw the St Patrick’s club safely past Tyrone men Pomeroy in the first battle in what was a closely contested encounter right until the final whistle.
“It was always going to be tight, it’s definitely what we expected,” added the Cullyhanna boss. “We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game and we knew the way they were going to play and set up.
“We had a frustrating first half, as much as we knew the way they were going to setup, actually dealing with it is a different thing, reality is a different thing.
“They frustrated us in the first half, and we gave away a lot of stupid ball and we were glad to go in at half time one point down.
“We felt we were in a good position and then we got the boys settled at half time and then they could really adapt to what we were talking about in terms of what we were expecting from them.
“In fairness they put the wrongs right in the second half and got over the line. It was what we expected, it was going to be a one-point game either way and go to the last minute and the last kick of the ball.”
The return of former Armagh defender Mickey Murray to the starting line-up was a major boost as the tenacious centre half-back missed a huge chumk of the county championship.
“We identified that at half time, we couldn’t get our better players on the ball, and we just tried to work on that. Mickey being back was a big boost with his experience in Ulster football, it’s a big thing.
“Mickey was definitely pivotal in the second half and even throughout the game, Mickey was good on the ball, he’s a smart footballer so it’s good to get our big players on the field.
“But we have other players there as well all over the field that stepped up. Gary Mackin came in as a sub and he did well and put in a shift, there’s 15 men needed and more in these games.”