‘Derry couldn’t live with us’ - Rian O’Neill hails Armagh display as Ciaran Mackin’s ACL injury is confirmed

Armagh's Rian O'Neill wheels away after scoring his side's third goal against Derry at Celtic Park
-Credit: (Image: ©INPHO/Lorcan Doherty)

Rian O’Neill said Derry “couldn’t live with us” as Armagh claimed an emphatic 11-point win over Mickey Harte’s side in Celtic Park on Sunday.

The Oak Leafers shipped three goals in what turned out to be a remarkably one-sided contest. Derry have now conceded nine goals in their last three Championship outings in their three consecutive Championship defeats to Donegal, Galway and Armagh.

The fortune of the League champions is in contrast to that of Armagh, who’ve shown great courage to bounce back from their Ulster Final heartbreak against Donegal with two wins from two in Group One.

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They’ll take on Galway for the right to top the group in round three, although their win was marred by news that Ciaran Mackin suffered a season-ending cruciate knee injury in training during the week.

Rian O’Neill, one of three Armagh goal-scorers on the day, praised the ruthless nature of their performance on Sunday.

“The way we bounced back from the Ulster Final defeat, it was very hard for us to take as a team, but we played with against Westmeath last weekend,” O’Neill told The Sunday Game.

“Today, we threw off the shackles and went at Derry and I don’t think they could live with us, the pace and power we had coming through the middle. We just tore them apart and took our chances when they came.

“The resilience in this group - we’ve came back time-and-time again. We’ve been beaten on penalties. . . it is funny when you look back. Those things can nearly bring you even tighter. “At times you rally round each other - it is no one man’s fault. Penalties are a thing of luck - maybe we could have stopped it going to penalties in the past, but we’ll keep bouncing back.”

On the prospect of facing Galway again, O’Neill said Armagh will relish locking horns with the Tribesmen once more.

Pádraic Joyce’s side defeated Armagh in the 2022 All-Ireland quarter-finals on penalties before Armagh won last year’s round three tie in Carrick-on-Shannon.

Armagh’s Ciaran Mackin arrives at Celtic Park in crutches after suffering an ACL injury during the week
Armagh’s Ciaran Mackin arrives at Celtic Park in crutches after suffering an ACL injury during the week -Credit:©INPHO/Bryan Keane

“We play Galway now, we’ve played them twice before in the last three years and there’ll be nothing easy there,” added O’Neill.

“They’ve some of the best players in Ireland. We are going down with belief and they have belief so it should be a cracker.”

Mackin’s loss is a huge blow for Armagh however as the Shane O’Neill’s clubman has been one of their best players in 2024.

It is the second time in two weeks that the cruciate curse has struck the Mackin family with his sister Aimee also sidelined for the remainder of the season after picking up the injury during the Ulster Ladies final win over Donegal last month.

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