Result: Armagh 5-13 Kerry 0-11
Armagh forward Kenny Cox rolled back the years on Sunday and had an outstanding display in front of goal for the winners as he fired in a hat-trick of goals and also had a number of assists in Armagh’s emphatic intermediate football victory.
While it took Armagh a while to get going, when they did they were clinical. Cox, Richie Morgan and Peter Hatzer were brilliant in the full forward line, combining for 4-7 of the total.
Derek McKenna, the Armagh manager this season after hanging up the boots after a long and tremendous career between the lines in New York, will be delighted with the start to his managerial career.
Kerry had a wonderful start. They had a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after 17 minutes, with Donal Hartnett and Keith Power in mid-season form. They had a brace each, and Power in particular was looking very dangerous when on the ball.
Dodo flicked over a couple of frees and was showing his class in front of goal. Creating the attacks, Dermie Foley and John Fitzsimmons with a couple of very good runs gave the side chances that were capitalized upon but also squandered on a couple of occasions.
Armagh slowly started to get back into the contest, and it came from some quality ball to the half and full forward line. Hatzer sandwiched a Hartnett free with points from a free and play, and then set up Chris Neville for a cracking goal. Donald Walsh in the Kerry goal could be forgiven as the ball took a deflection off a defender on the way to the onion bag.
Kerry had a brilliant full field move that resulted in a Ray O’Connor score. John Fitzsimmons had a major part to play in the move. It put the Kingdom back on level terms.
Hartnett then pushed Kerry ahead by one with a point from play, but with four minutes left in the half it was the last time that they had that advantage.
Armagh closed the half with 1-1 from Man of the Match Cox, and the rout was on.
The winners opened the second half with a 3-5 outburst, with Cox grabbing his second goal within minutes of the restart. He continued to be a thorn in the Kingdom side for the rest of the game.
While the Armagh forward line was doing damage, what was pivotal was the control that Mike Hallissey and Kevin McGeeney were having in the middle of the park. Both were spraying the ball around creatively, with Hallissey also chipping over two points in the scoring mix.
There were 17 minutes gone before finally Kerry had a score. They did manage to get three of the next four with O’Connor firing over a gem from 50 yards out while Shane Coffey came forward to chip a point.
They needed more though, and Foley was denied on a goal chance with seven minutes left before Coffey drove a screamer over when he really wanted it to stay low.
Armagh added three of the last four scores to punctuate their superiority and the win was in the bag.
For the winners, Darren McDermott, Aiden Hearty and Ciaran Rodgers all excelled at the back. The midfield was tremendous, with Hallissey pivotal at times.
Up front Kenny Cox, Hatzer and Morgan were all inspirational at times, with Cox the leading scoring light.
While the New York panel was not given to the press at time of writing, (that is discussed on the opposite page), if county players were not allowed to play in the league games at this point, suffice to say that Hallissey and Morgan showed well in their first action after their involvement with the New York set-up.
Kerry started brightly but could not maintain their pace or keep with the victors as time wore on. Richie Hartnett, Mark Darren Halpin in patches, Ray O’Connor when on the forty and the inside threat first half of Hartnett and Power all had positive moments for Tommy Quaid’s charges.
Armagh: 1 Donal Hearty, 2 Seamus McDaid, 3 Patsy Martin, 4 Darren McDermott, 5 Sean McKeown, 6 Aiden Hearty, 7 Ciaran Rodgers, 8 Kevin McGeeney (0-2), 9 Michael Hallissey (0-3), 10 Conor Cairns (0-1), 11 Chris Neville (1-0), 12 Gerry Hamill, 13 Peter Hatzer (0-5), 14 Kenny Cox (3-1), 15 Richie Morgan (1-1).
Kerry: 1 Donald Walsh, 2 Tom O’Brien, 3 John Fitzsimmons, 4 Mike Lenihan, 5 Ritchie Hartnett, 6 Shane Coffey (0-2), 7 Andy Hannigan, 8 Jason Killeen, 9 Darren Halpin, 10 Mike King, 11 Ray O’Connor (0-2), 12 Dermie Foley, 13 Darren Courtney, 14 Donal Hartnett (0-5), 15 Keith Power (0-2).
Man of the Match: Kenny Cox (Armagh).
Referee: Peter McCormack.