Point lost or gained – only time will tell
Allianz NFL Div 2 Westmeath 3-12 v Armagh 2-15
Only time will tell as this historic Allianz National Football League Division Two campaign concludes will Armagh supporters be able to see if the point picked up in a remarkable pulsating 2-15 to 3-12 draw in Mullingar with Westmeath was a point gained or one lost.
Had not Ray Connellan missed a chance to win it for the hosts in the dying seconds it would have been a point lost by Armagh who twice held 8 point leads before battling back from 4 points down to salvage a share of the spoils courtesy of a last gasp goal from substitute Jamie Clarke.
The match saw both sides enjoy a productive dominant scoring spell at the beginning of each half as Armagh began the game with an unanswered 1-5 and held that 8-point lead 1-12 to 0-7 as the teams left the field at the short whistle. Seventeen minutes into the second half the hosts despite being reduced numerically through a brace of black cards enjoyed a 3-11 to 1-13 lead.
Rory Grugan marked his return to the team by palming home a fourth minute goal and would add a further 4 points to his tally to end as his team’s top scorer. Having opened a 1-5 to nil lead Armagh and Westmeath played out the remainder of the half sharing 14 points between them.
The Lake County like the rest of the country looked flooded over going in at the break as Armagh looked set for their third league win. But a remarkable twelve-point turnaround when the second half action resumed turned this game on its head. Westmeath go to man John Heslin converting a penalty after a Grugan foot-block. and less than a minute later Coroon netted a second goal before Loughlin found the top corner eleven minutes later for a third goal in a 12-minute spell. O’Neill and Jason Duffy slotted over for Armagh but Heslin brought Westmeath three clear before the topsy-turvy nature of proceedings was typified as Clarke fisted in, with the goal allowed despite a hint of a square ball.
Derry referee Barry Cassidy will not be getting too many Easter cards from the very large Armagh travelling support for his handling of the game more especially for blowing full time with Armagh on the attack.
Amazingly following a dismal opening day performance in Armagh three wins on the bounce have Cavan at the top of the league table. Armagh and next weeks opponents Roscommon 2-11 to 0-13 winners over Kildare join Laois one point winners in Ennis over Clare on 5 points. Kildare Fermanagh and Clare each have 2 points with 3 rounds of fixtures remaining. It could not be any tighter with every point a prisoner with the two promotion and two relegation places still very much in the balance for all 8 teams in the division
Armagh – Blaine Hughes; Paddy Burns, Aidan Nugent, Aidan Forker (0-1); Conor O’Neill, Stephen Sheridan, Joe McElroy; Niall Grimley, Oisin O’Neill (0-2, 1m); Rory Grugan (1-4, 2f), Stefan Campbell, Mark Shields (0-1); Conor Turbitt (0-1), Rian O’Neill (0-4, 4f), Jarlath Og Burns (0-1). Subs: Jason Duffy (0-1) for Turbitt (45mins), Jamie Clarke (1-0) for Nugent (51), James Morgan for McElroy (57), Ethan Rafferty for O O’Neill (64).
Westmeath – Jason Daly; Killian Daly, Ronan Wallace, Boidu Sayeh (0-1); Sam Duncan, Kevin Maguire, James Dolan; Denis Corroon (1-0), Ray Connellan (0-1); Anthony McGivney, Ronan O’Toole (0-2), David Lynch; Callum McCormack, John Heslin (1-6, 5f), Luke Loughlin (1-2, 1 ’45). Subs: Conor Coughlan for Lynch (55mins), Tommy McDaniel for McCormack (57), Noel Mulligan for McGivney (62), Jack Smith for Duncan (70).
Referee – Barry Cassidy (Derry)