The Orchard County dominated the opening exchanges but were made to pay for missing chances as Derry fought back to earn an interval lead before a brace of second-half goals put paid to Armagh’s chances.
Both sides handed opportunities to a number of young players and McGeeney said he was happy with the performance if not the result.
“I was happy with the majority of the match even though I felt we left a good bit behind us with the penalty and missing a couple of easy goal chances.”
“But to be fair, the Derry goalkeeper made an outstanding save near the end.
“We would have liked to get the victory. The players fought back well after giving up the lead and they showed some good composure at times, maybe poor at others, but I think there were more positives than negatives.
“Even in the two games before Christmas, missing chances have cost us but we have been getting better. There are a lot of fellas that are new to the level but we did relatively well.”
Derry were without manager Damian Barton but it didn’t seem to unsettle them despite a slow start that saw them 1-1 to no score down inside eight minutes.
The home side eventually settled with midfielder Adrian McLaughlin, making his first senior appearance in a number of years, helping his team to a 1-5 to 1-3 lead with a superb 1-1 before he left injured in the second period.
Anthony Duffy’s goal had helped Armagh take control but they were caught cold by the Oak Leafers in the closing stages of the first half as Ryan Bell set up McLaughlin to rifle home a brilliant shot a minute before the break.
The second half saw a much improved Derry with Emmett McGuckin earning himself a 43rd-minute penalty after Stephen Sheridan had blocked the full forward’s shot with his foot. The big number 14 made no mistake from the kick.
And it got better for Derry on 55 minutes when Peter Hagan sent substitute Enda Lynn scampering through the middle and he produced an emphatic finish for a 3-7 to 1-8 lead.
It looked game over but Armagh refused to lie down. Both sides introduced substitutes and Armagh’s Ben Crealey hit 0-3 from play.
Veteran Ciaran McKeever, who started at full-forward, produced his own moment of magic five minutes into injury-time, holding off three tackles before hitting the back of the net, but it arrived too late to salvage a point.
Derry assistant manager Brian McGuckin was happy to start with a win but said there was still plenty of work to do.
“Winning, believe it or not, was not our ultimate aim but we are trying to create that type of culture.
“We were delighted with the work-rate we showed in a lot of the areas. A lot of things came off but there are certainly areas we need to develop and develop fast.”
A McLaughlin (1-1); E McGuckin (1-1, 1-0 pen); N Loughlin (0-4, 2f, 1 43); E Lynn (1-0); R Bell (0-2); M Warnock, P Kearney (0-1 each)
C McKeever (1-1); O Mac Iomhair (2f), B
(0-3 each); A Duffy (1-0); R Grugan (0-2, 2f); J McGill, N Rowland, Ethan Rafferty (45) (0-1 each)
B McKinless; O Hegarty, O Duffin, P Hagan; P Coney, J Doherty, N Forester; G O’Neill, A McLaughlin; G O’Neill, A McLaughlin; M Warnock, N Loughlin, C McWilliams; R Bell, E McGuckin, B Heron.
E Lynn for G O’Neill, 45mins; C Nevein for A McLaughlin, 47; R Murphy for E McGuckin, 55; P Kearney for P Coney, 55; C McGrogan for M Warnock, 66; M Lynch for J Doherty, 69.
M McNiece; O Lappin, C Vernon, J McGill (0-1); S McCoy, N Rowland, C Higgins; S Sheridan, A Findon; A Forker, N McConville, R Grugan; A Duffy, C McKeever, O Mac Iomhair.
C White for N McConville , H/T; B Crealey (0-3) for S McCoy, H/T; J Hall for N Rowland, 54mins. Ethan Rafferty for A Findon, 58mins;
Niall Cullen (Fermangh)