Wee test with a big result
March 13, 2017
● NFL Div 3 Armagh v Louth
Third placed Armagh travel to Drogheda to take on the unbeaten league leaders Louth in a huge game in the context of promotion from Division Three. Louth have continued on their league form from last year when they were crowned Division Four champions by winning their opening 4 games, Laois 2-16 to 0-10, Louth 0-11 Longford 0-10, Louth 2-13 Offaly 0-14and Louth 2-10 Antrim 1-11.
The Wee County are 3 points clear of Armagh in the table with 3 rounds of fixtures remaining. A win for Louth would mean that Armagh could not catch them and with second placed Tipperary facing Offaly if the Orchard were defeated in Drogheda, one would expect them to be then 3 points in arrears of second placed Tipp. On the other hand an Armagh win has them right back in the mix for promotion and a spot in the league final as they would only trail both of the current teams above them by a single point. Also the penultimate round of fixtures has Tipperary at home to Louth as Armagh entertain Antrim with an Armagh v Tipperary Athletic Grounds meeting the last game of the league as Louth entertain Sligo on the last day with the Yeatsmen like Armagh currently on the 5 point mark. So it is easy to see how the “Wee test” carries so much significance from a result point of view.
A 30 point win with 12 different scorers is just the tonic Armagh needed following an indifferent start to the League in which they should have won all four games but instead managed to drop 3 points (1 defeat, I draw) when well in control of both games. Whilst the Offaly challenge in that big win was very poor you can only beat what’s in front of you and it’s the confidence generated by that victory that should stand Armagh in good stead going into this Louth test.
With 6-50 scored in their 4 outings from 15 different scorers it is evident where Colin Kelly’s charges have excelled with Ryan Burns (3-13), Pauric Smith (1-8), Eoin O Connor (1-4), Andy McDonnell (1-2), Tommy Durnin (0-5), Declan Byrne (0-4), Bevan Duffy (0-3), Anthony Williams (0-2), Jim McEnaney (0-2), Ross Nally (0-1), Derek Maguire (0-1),James Stewart(0-1), Adrian Reid (0-1) and John Bingham (0-1) doing the damage on the scoreboard. So the Armagh defensive fraelties that were exposed by Sligo, Laois and Longford which led to the concession of 6 goals will need to be sorted out before facing such a potent attacking force which Louth have at present.
Armagh’s last visit to Drogheda was in Feb 2014 for a Div Two League fixture that ended in a draw 0-16 to 1-13 and the following year in Armagh in a Div 3 League game Armagh won 0-10 to 0-8.
Kieran McGeeney has been in experemental mode during the course of the League to date with a total of 27 different players seeing some action in the four games played. Getting the balance right between the experienced players and the abundance of young talent that is around is a big task facing McGeeney and his management team. Sunday will tell a lot in terms of just how Armagh are shaping up. Defeat will probably mean another spell in Division Three whist it will be onwards and upwards towards promotion and a possible League title if a win is the result. One thing about this local derby is that Louth, to their credit, have never feared Armagh and have always been able to provide them with a stern test. Sunday will be more than a test it will be a real examination but it is one that I expect Armagh to pass with flying colours.