Mathematical Despair

April 4, 2016

ALLIANZ FL Division 2 Armagh 1-18 Derry 0-15

A comfortable six-point victory over Derry in the Athletic Grounds in a must win final league game, proved in vain for Armagh as the results of the other games in the Division confirmed a swift return to Division Three for the Orchard County in the cruelest fashion- scoring differences.

Fermanagh came back against Tyrone to snatch a draw 1-9 to 0-12 and Meath came from behind to beat Laois 0-18 to 1-9 ensuing that 4 teams Armagh, Derry, Fermanagh and Meath finished their campaign on the 6 point mark one shy of third placed Galway who lost out on promotion by their 1-16 to 1-12 defeat in Cavan. Laois were already relegated before today’s game and Derry were safe with nothing to play for.

The final outcome for the second relegation place went to scoring difference because there were more than two teams tied on points. The breakdown saw Fermanagh finish in fourth place, Meath in fifth place and Derry sixth with Armagh slipping into the second relegation spot.

A win and 2 draws in their last 3 outings represents a strong finish from Armagh but the 17-point defeat by Cavan several weeks ago was the result which ultimately proved decisive when it came to the bit but the home loss to Laois their only win of the campaign was the real killer blow.

Conditions for the Derry game, a strong breeze down the pitch decreed that it would be a game of two halves but it did not really turn out that way with the opening half in which Armagh were assisted by the wind being far more entertaining than the second. It looked bleak six minutes into the game as Derry led 3-1 but points from Stefan Campbell and Mark Shields levelled matters. The sides would be on level terms twice more in that opening half before Armagh unleashed a match winning unanswered 1-5.

In a must-win game for Kieran McGeeney Armagh sparkled as they had 6 different first half scorers from play with Miceal McKenna 0-1, Rory Grugan 0-2, C O’Hanlon 0-1, Colm Watters 0-1, Gavin McParland 0-1 added to those two opening points. Ethan Rafferty weighed in with 3 pointed frees as Armagh pounced for what proved to be the only goal of the game in added on time. Campbell fed Ciaran O’Hanlon whose direct run through the middle of the Derry defense before offloading to McKenna who cut in on his left foot to hit the ball low into the net to give Armagh a 1-12 to 0-7 interval lead.

In truth a dis- interested Derry failed to raise a second half gallop despite making a few personnel and positional changes. The wind assisted Oak Leafers only managed 2 points from play through Ryan Bell and James Kielt in a very stop start second half. Armagh also only managed 2 points from play from Andy Mallon and Campbell. Mark Lynch pointed one more free 0-5 than his Armagh counterpart Rafferty in their second half shoot-out but it was good enough to tie him with Rafferty as top scorers with 0-7 apiece from frees.

While the end result left Armagh down it was not all doom and gloom at the Athletic Grounds with supporters rallying to the cause following three improved performances. Division Three is confined to the 2017 season there is a lot of mileage yet to be covered. All 6 Armagh starting forwards on the scoreboard before the short whistle a lot of research required to unearth the last time that occurred. At least the way things have turned out puts and added interest onto the championship clash with promoted Cavan.

Armagh: P Morrison; A Mallon (0-1), C Vernon, S Heffron; M Shields (0-1), S Connell, J McElroy; A Forker, E Rafferty (0-7); R Grugan (0-2), M McKenna (1-1), C O’Hanlon (0-1); C Watters (0-1), S Campbell (0-3), G McParland (0-1) Subs: T Kernan for McElroy (48), N Grimley for O’Hanlon (55), M McNeice for Morrison (58), A Findon for McParland (69)

Derry: T Mallon; O Duffy, C McKaigue, K McKaigue; L McGoldrick, B Rogers, D Heavron; C McAtamney, C McFaul; N Loughlin, C Bradley (0-2), J Kielt (0-3, 2f); E McGuckin (0-1), M Lynch (0-7, 7f), SL McGoldrick (0-1) Subs: E Bradley for McAtamney (34), R Bell (0-1) for SL McGoldrick (HT), C Mullan for L McGoldrick (HT), C Murphy for Loughlin (55), D Mullan for McGuckin (55), C O’Boyle for Kielt (64)

Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford)