Armagh hurlers promoted to Division 2A for 2017

March 29, 2016

Division 2B League Final Armagh 0-20 Down 1-15

Armagh hurlers claimed an historic National League title on Saturday afternoon, which earned them promotion to the Allianz Hurling League Division 2A for 2017, after a deserved victory over fierce rivals, Down. The Division 2B League Final was played at Dowdallshill in Dundalk, in very heavy underfoot conditions. Down who had inflicted an opening round only League defeat on their Orchard rivals were hot favorites to win but could not cope with the desire and intensity for victory shown by Armagh.

Down were out of the traps flying as full forward Danny Toner scored 4 unanswered points. but once Declan Coulter opened the Armagh account they settled into their stride with 2 points from Ryan Gaffney cutting the deficit to the minimum. Gaffney and Sean Nicholson traded points before the Armagh man from the tightest of angles drew the side’s level. Top scorer Gaffney pointed Armagh in front for the first time but it did not last long as James McGrath hit two quick consecutive scores to edge Down back in front. Armagh then hit a purple patch to the short whistle scoring 6 points on the trot to take control of the game. Conor Corvan began the point sequence followed by, two long-range efforts from Stephen Renaghan, and two converted frees from Ryan Gaffney. The score of the half to complete the scoring came from Nathan Curry and it gave Armagh a 0-12 to 0-7.

The second half was barely underway when Armagh had a chance to put the game to bed, but a penalty from Declan Coulter was well saved by Stephen Keith in the Down goal. Spurred on by the penalty save, Down added two scores from Danny Toner and Rian Branagan, but Gaffney kept the five point margin with two further scores from the dead ball. Ten minutes into the half, Down raised the game’s only green flag with substitute Chris Egan scrambling the sliotar home after Artie McGuinness had managed to stop a shot on the line. Armagh responded well to the goal setback and with Cahal Carvill charging through on goal, he was upended and the accurate Ryan Gaffney added to his impressive tally. Down went on the attack again and Scott Nicholson’s effort flashed over the bar following a spectacular save from Simon Doherty. Declan Coulter quickly regained the three point margin as Toner and Coulter traded scores followed by a Conor O’Prey  effort replied to by John Corvan leaving Armagh three points clear with less than ten minutes to go.  Declan Coulter notched his third point in ten minutes only for O’Prey from a free replying for Down. Man of the Match Ryan Gaffney added Armagh’s twentieth point on the 70 minutes to put Armagh that vital four in front as the clock ticked down. Down kept battling on with points from Danny Toner and Conor O’Prey leaving the Ardsmen two points short at the final whistle, much to the delight of the travelling Armagh support.

The final whistle saw scenes of jubilation as Armagh celebrated a rare and historic League title. Players and management were joined on the field by the boisterous Armagh support as Cahal Carvill accepted the Division 2B trophy from Ulster GAA president, Michael Hasson. Armagh hurlers will now turn their attention to the Nicky Rackard Championship, which begins for them with a home game against Donegal in the Athletic Grounds on Saturday 23 April.

Armagh: Simon Doherty, Ciarán Clifford, Artie McGuinness, Nathan Curry 0-1, Kieran McKernan, Shea Gaffney, Cormac Toner, Stephen Renaghan 0-2, John Corvan 0-1, Ryan Gaffney 0-11 (0-10 f), Declan Coulter 0-4, David Carvill, Cahal Carvill, Eoin McGuinness, Conor Corvan 0-1

Subs: Connor Devlin for Eoin McGuinness, Peter McKearney for John Corvan, Pauric Hughes for Cormac Toner

Down: Stephen Keith, Conor O’Prey 0-3 (0-3 f), Pádraig Flynn, Seán Ennis, John McManus, Aaron O’Prey, James McGrath 0-2, Conor Woods, Scott Nicholson 0-2, Fintan Conway, Donal Hughes, Rian Branagan 0-1 (0-1 f), Stephen Dineen, Danny Toner 0-7 (0-4 f), Conor Mageean

Subs: Chris Egan 1-0 for Fintan Conway, Paul Sheehan for Aaron O’Prey, Ruairí Campbell for Rian Branagan, Jordan Doran for Stephen Dineen