Donegal now a relegation dogfight

March 31, 2014

• Allianz NFL Div 2 Galway 2-14 Armagh1-13

Armagh at home to table topping Donegal next Sunday at the Athletic Grounds has now turned into a relegation dogfight for the Orchard County. Following the penultimate round of fixtures Louth are already relegated which leaves one of Armagh, Galway or Laois to be relegated next weekend. Down, with just pride to play for, unless a series of results go their way, travel to Laois, whilst Armagh conquerors Galway have to go to Monaghan who need a win to secure promotion for the second year in a row. A Laois win over Down would leave Armagh and the Tribesmen both needing wins to avoid the drop.

Going West was always going to be a tough ask for Armagh and 4 minutes after the game started at St Jarlath’s Park (Tuam Stadium) the task for the visitors had grown enormously as they conceded two goals to Eddie Hoare and Michael Martin. Galway led 2-8 to 0-9 at the short whistle but with 10 minutes left on the clock 14 man Armagh (a yellow card followed by a black for Gary McCooey early in the second half) had drawn level but the hosts pushed on with an unanswered 4 point burst that saw them leapfrog Laois up into fifth place.

Paul Conroy and Tony Kernan had exchanged points before Gareth Bradshaw cut through the middle of the Armagh defence to set up Hoare’s third minute goal and a minute later the green flag was hoisted by Martin from a near repeat move. Armagh management reshuffled their defence making 3 changes as they tried to get a foothold in the game but found themselves trailing by 5 points going in at the break.

Kevin Dyas registered the opening point of the second half and despite the sending off Armagh were more than proving a match for Galway. Tony Kernan struck for a goal and Armagh were within two points of the hosts 2-9 to 1-10. The unthinkable looked a reality as a point from the returning Aaron Kernan reduced the deficit to the minimum. Galway ended their scoring drought with their second point of the half from Martin. Dyas and Finian Moriarty had the teams level for the second time in the match 2-10 to 1-13 but it was to be the last score from the visitors. Galway finished as they began with a flurry as points from James Kavanagh, Paul Conroy, Mike Farragher and Tom Flynn gave under pressure Alan Mulholland a vital win.

It’s a rarity but next Sunday it will be a case of Armagh supporters shouting UP Down as they need all the help they can get to stop dropping down to Division Three.