Nicky Rackard final: Orchard blooms against Louth

June 09, 2012

Armagh's Declan Coulter races away from Ronan Byrne of Louth during the Nicky Rackard Cup final at Croke Park today ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Armagh 3-20
Louth 1-15

Armagh never looked troubled as they claimed their second Nicky Rackard Cup title in three years, thanks to an 11-point win at Croke Park.

Goals were central to this Orchard County win, with Michael Johnston's charges craving three-pointers in the opening half.

Armagh claimed a hat-trick before the interval, with Declan Coulter responsible for two of these majors while Conor Corvan also breached Louth keeper James Connolly's goal-mouth.

In ideal conditions, Armagh showed their intent for victory right from the off, and powered to a 1-01 to 0-00 lead after just five minutes.

David Carvill opened the scoring with a pointed free in the third minute, and would register four further scores before the break.

Armagh continued to look impressive early on, with Coulter netting his first goal after five minutes, following a pass from Paul McCormack.

Shane Fennell claimed the first of his nine points for Louth soonafter, before  Carvill and Fennell traded scores to ensure a 1-02 to 0-02 score-line.

However, Armagh firmly upped their game registering six of the next seven points to take a 1-08 to 0-03 lead in the 19th minute.

Ryan Gaffney, David Carvill, McCormack, Coulter and Conor Corvan on target for the Orchard County.

Corcoran kept Louth in touch and while Fennell ended Armagh's scoring streak with a well taken point, Armagh got going once more.

In the 20th minute, Coulter turned from poacher to provider as he was involved in the move which set up Conor Corvan to claim Armagh's second goal.

The Keady clubman firing to the top corner of the net from the tightest of angles to give Armagh a 2-08 to 0-04 lead.

Coulter extended his sides advantage to 11 points soon-after and although Louth responded with points from Fennell and Donagh O'Sullivan, again Armagh took control.

Coulter completing the hat-trick for the eventual winners and bringing his personal tally to 2-02 with a 26th minute goal.

The sides traded points on two occasions before the interval, but Armagh registered the final three points of the half to take a 3-13 to 0-08 interval advantage.

A first point from Ruairi McGrattan extended their lead inside 40 seconds of the restart, with scores from Conor Corvan and David Carvill ensuring a 17-point lead in the 44th minute.

Louth bounced back with a trio of points with Diarmuid Murphy, Fennell and Adrian Wallace on target.

Substitute John Corvan claimed a rare score for Armagh, but the Wee County weren't finished yet.

Louth were handed a life-line in the 57th minute when full-forward Brian Corcoran cut through for Louth's first goal.

The Mattock Rangers clubman cut in from the wing on the Cusack Stand to deliver a shot from 30 metres past Armagh keeper Simon Doherty and ensure a 3-17 to 1-11 score-line.

Louth continued a pace with Fennell slotting over two points, one each from a free and a 65 metre free, to cut the deficit to 10 points with as many minutes remaining on the clock.

The Wee County had further chances to eat into the Armagh advantage but sent two efforts wide in quick succession.

Louth stood firm defensively at the opposite end with the likes of Wesley Morrissey and Donagh O'Sullivan impressive.

Armagh broke through for their first score in 11 minutes thanks to substitute Fiachra Bradley.

Louth kept up the pressure with scores from Fennell and Corcoran, but these were cancelled out by efforts from Paul McCormack and John Corvan.

Corcoran had a chance to eat further into the Armagh lead late on, but his powerful shot from a free 30 metres out was expertly blocked out by the Armagh defence.

Louth defeated in their fourth final as their search for a first Nicky Rackard Cup title continues.

After the game GAA President Liam O'Neill presented the Nicky Rackard Cup to Armagh captain Ryan Gaffney.

Scorers for Armagh: D Coulter 2-02; D Carvill (5f) 0-06; C Corvan 1-03; R Gaffney, P McCormack (1f), J Corvan 0-02 each; R McGrattan (1f), C Carvill, F Bradley 0-01 each.

Scorers for Louth: S Fennell (7f, 1 '65); 0-09; B Corcoran 1-02; D O'Sullivan, S Callan, D Murphy, A Wallace 0-01 each.

ARMAGH: S Doherty; P Hughes, C Clifford, C McKee; K McKernan, N Curry, P Gaffney; R McGrattan, J King; D Carvill, C Carvill, R Gaffney; D Coulter, P McCormack, C Corvan. Subs: F Bradley for Coulter (46); J Corvan for D Carvill (54); M Maguire for King (63);  A Carvill for C Corvan (68).

LOUTH: J Connolly; D Rafferty, W Morrissey, M Wallace; D O'Sullivan, R Byrne, D Horan; S Callan, D O'Hanrahan; D Dunne, S Fennell, D Murphy; K McNally, B Corcoran, A Wallace. Subs: G Smyth for McNally (HT); D McArdle for M Wallace (47); S Maguire for Murphy (61).

REFEREE: Paud O'Dwyer (Carlow)

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