Armagh storm to victory over Kildare
Allianz NFL Division 2 Armagh 0-16 Kildare 0-10
In driving wind and rain Armagh made little of Storm Ciara as they themselves stormed to victory over Kildare by 0-16 to 0-10 in a vital clash played in atrocious conditions at the Athletic Grounds.
With both teams smartening from surprise defeats the previous weekend, this third round League fixture, played on a horrendous night for football with a fierce gale blowing, was going to be a game of two halves and so it proved.
Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney rang the changes to last week’s starting 15 in that very disappointing defeat and display away to Laois. Defenders Aaron McKay, Brendan Donaghy, Greg McCabe along with forward Jason Duffy made way for Aidan Forker, Jarlath Og Burns, Joe McElroy and Aidan Nugent with all but the injured Forker used substi’tutes in that Portlaois defeat. Kildare counterpart Jack O’Connor had announced three changes following the Lilywhites’ disappointing result in Ennis last weekend with Kevin Flynn, Keith Cribbin and Jimmy Hyland replacing Eoin Doyle, Jack Robinson and Neil Flynn. There were 2 late changes before throw- in by Kildare with David Hyland and Tommy Moolick coming in for Johnny Byrne and Liam Power.
Given the night that was in it the significance of the coin toss by Meath referee David Coldrick (who had given the go ahead for play following two pre-match inspections) could not be understated. Armagh had the backing of the gale force wind for the opening half which was to serve as a platform for victory as they lead at half-time by 7 points, 0-8 to 0-1.
Dominant half after slow start
Three minutes into the first half Aidan Nugent stooped low to gather a forward mark which he duly pointed to give Armagh the lead that survived for 5 minutes before Paul Cribben levelled with what proved to be the Lillywhites only point of the half. With both teams trying to adapt to the very testing conditions it was on 16 minutes when the home side regained the lead courtesy of a Stefan Campbell point as Kildare goalkeeper after Mark Donnellan saved brilliantly from Nugent following good work by Jarly Og, to deny Armagh a goal on the quarter hour mark. Midfielder Niall Grimley extended the lead to 3-1 as a brilliant diving block by Kildare defender Peter Kelly denied Rian O’Neill a certain goal. Points from Aidan Forker, Oisin O’Neill and a second for Campbell had Armagh 6-1 up with 5 minutes of the half remaining. Armagh’s 27th minute substitute Jamie Clarke who replaced Conor Turbitt marked his introduction with a brace of points to complete the first half scoring.
Playing with the elements Kildare need a fast start but it was Armagh who forced the issue seeing what looked like a goal denied as the ball ran along the goaline and somehow stayed out but that was quickly forgotten as Rian O’Neill pointed off the deck. A second goal chance was on the cards, but midfielder Stephen Sheridan opted to take his point to make it 10-1. Kildare were thrown a surprise lifeline as Jamie Clarke was sent off following a second yellow card 3 minutes into the half. Referee Coldrick had issued his first following a skirmish as the teams left the field for half-time. Despite being numerically reduced Armagh continued to press Kildare as second points for both Nugent and Rian O’Neill left Armagh 12-1 up seven minutes after the restart. Paddy Brophy doubled the visitors tally as James Morgan replaced Conor O’Neill in the Armagh defence. The hard working Callum Cumiskey was rewarded as he fashioned a good point for himself, followed by three Kildare points in a row, two pointed frees from substitute Adam Tyrrell and a lovely point from Daniel Flynn. A Rian O’Neill pointed free disrupted the Kildare run and it was double scores 0-14 to 0-7 on the hour, as Cribben and Tyrell found the target. Mark Shields and Jack Robinson traded points as Armagh introduced McCabe (denied a late goal by a terrific stop from goalkeeper Donnelly) for Nugent, Donaghy for Shields and McKay for Cumiskey followed by an 8-point gap when Rian O’Neill pointed a free. Five minutes added was held up, during which, Brophy completed the match scoring, with a late brace of points, to leave the final score at 0-16 to 0-10.
On a night of pure attrition Armagh found true redemption to atone for last week’s inexplicable out of character disappointingly poor performance. Whatever had gone wrong the previous week was righted by both management and players. The scoring touch returned with 0-16 to show all coming from 10 different players, what a difference a week can make especially in terms of attitude and application. Armagh are now back on the promotion trail as we head into a week’s break with the next fixture a novel Sunday fixture at TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar @ 2pm on Feb 23 against hosts Westmeath following 3 outings of Saturday Night Fever.
Armagh – B Hughes; P Burns, C O’Neill, A Forker (0-1, 1f); M Shields (0-1), S Sheridan (0-1), J McElroy; N Grimley (0-1), O O’Neill (0-1); J Og Burns, S Campbell (0-2), C Cumiskey (0-1); C Turbitt, R O’Neill (0-4, 3f), A Nugent (0-2, 1f, 1m). Subs: J Clarke (0-2, 1f) for Turbitt (27mins), J Morgan for C O’Neill (45), G McCabe for Nugent (68), B Donaghy for Shields (69), A McKay for Cumiskey (70).
Kildare – M Donnellan; P Kelly, M O’Grady, S Ryan; K Flynn, D Hyland, C Cavanagh; K Feely, T Moolick; P Cribbin (0-2), P Brophy (0-3), K Cribbin; N Kelly, D Flynn (0-1), J Hyland. Subs: N Flynn for O’Grady (HT), A Tyrrell (0-3, 2f) for Hyland (44mins), J Byrne for Cavanagh (45), J Robinson (0-1) for Moolick (56), L Power for N Kelly (65).
Ref: D Coldrick (Meath)