ARMAGH 17 CITY OF DERRY 19, Dubarry Park
Scorers: Armagh: Try: Matthew Irwin; Pens: Adam Gowing 4
City of Derry: Tries: Andrew Semple, Richard McCarter, Mark O'Connor; Cons: Mark O'Connor 2
Mark O'Connor's injury-time try and conversion sent City of Derry supporters, officials and players into raptures as they claimed a first ever AIB Junior Cup title at Dubarry Park this afternoon.
Out-half Adam Gowing had slotted over his fourth successful penalty to put Armagh 17-12 ahead with ten minutes to go, but Andy Hughes' men were unable to fend off a late Derry rally which was topped off by O'Connor's try in the right corner and the deciding kick from the tightest of angles.
With both sides chasing their first All-Ireland cup crown in their first final appearance, the intensity certainly was not lacking in this clash in a sunny Athlone.
City of Derry made the early running in the first half, and were rewarded when scrum half Andrew Semple claimed the game's opening try in the 10th minute.
Derry moved the ball quickly from a tap penalty and with the Armagh defence caught napping, Semple scored in the right corner, with O'Connor missing the conversion.
But Armagh were in front by the 27th minute. Two well-struck penalty kicks from Gowing settled his side, who were rewarded for some strong, direct running.
Although Armagh were getting the upper hand in the possession stakes, they were rocked back on their heels in the 30th minute when an attempted clearance by Gowing was blocked on the halfway line.
His opposite number, former AIB Club international Richard McCarter, made a superb block, collected the ball and raced off for a superb long range try.
O'Connor made amends for an early conversion miss to ensure a double scores lead at 12-6 with nine minutes to go until the break.
A third Gowing penalty cut the gap to three points in the 33rd minute, and despite City Of Derry exerting most of the pressure in the latter stages of the half - with some excellent runs by the likes of Rudi Moore and David Funston - the scoreboard remained at 12-9 for the interval.
Both sides were guilty of missed opportunities in a 14-minute spell after the restart, as mistakes began to creep into the game.
Gowing failed to convert a 45th minute penalty, while O'Connor was guilty of missing two kickable chances in the 52nd and 54th minutes.
Derry suffered another setback when lock David Houston was sin-binned for a late tackle and Armagh capitalised immediately as winger Matthew Irwin snuck in for an unconverted try from close range to edge the Ulster Qualifying League leaders back in front at 14-12.
Some more hard work from the forwards was polished off by Gowing as he put five points between the sides, but Armagh's grip on the cup was loosened at the death despite the best efforts of AIB man-of-the-match Tim Clarke who put in a tireless display.
O'Connor was able to finish off a last-gasp chance and the Ulster Colleges player coolly added the all-important conversion to spark mass celebrations for Bevan Lynch's gutsy side.
ARMAGH: Johnny Steenson; Jonny Allen, Leigh Manu, Peter Elliott, Matthew Irwin; Adam Gowing, Matthew Wright; Brian Patterson, James Johnston, Mervyn Hopps, James Morton (capt), Jamie Cornett, Joe Clarke, Andy Hughes, Tim Clarke.
Replacements used: David Martin for Joe Clarke (76 mins), Ralph Mercer for Johnston (80). Not used: Dermot Costello, Peter Lamb, Stephen Morton, Andrew Willis, Stuart Lester.
CITY OF DERRY: Peter Henderson; Rudi Moore, David Funston, Jarred Bennett, Mark O'Connor; Richard McCarter, Andrew Semple; David Witherow, Sam McAuley, Sam Duffy, David Houston, Bob McKillop (capt), Karl Gemmell, Mark Walker, Stephen Corr.
Replacements used: Philip Brady for Corr, Jason Mitchell for McAuley (both 70 mins), Stephen Simms for Walker (77). Not used: Stephen Ferguson, Simon Logue, Adam Bratton, Chris Shiels.
Referee: Dudley Phillips (IRFU)