Armagh will take on neighbours Louth on Saturday night in the Athletic Grounds knowing that a home win will see the Orchard County promoted to Division Two. The meeting of the two teams who made the drop out of Division Two last year has seen both sides having very contrasting fortunes in their league campaigns to date. Armagh are unbeaten and joint top of the table with Fermanagh following wins over Tipperary, Wexford, Limerick and Clare and a draw in their last home game with fellow table toppers. Louth have only won 2 of their 5 games to date and are involved in the relegation rather than promotion end of the table. The Wee County have conceded 6-42 in their last two defeats to Tipperary (4-16) and Sligo (2-26) but it is worth noting that they might have had a leaky defence but they scored 5-20 in those two defeats.
Another boost for Louth is the fact that on their last visit to Armagh in 2013 they went home victorious 1-12 to 1-10 in a Division Two league game and last year when the sides met in Drogheda it finished level 0-16 to 1-13 with Stefan Forker scoring the Armagh goal on that occasion.
Armagh for their part have put in Jekyll and Hyde performances over the course of the league to date mixing the very good and the bad but at the end of it all they are on the cusp of promotion before they visit Sligo in the final match. Armagh have scored 10-58 in the league so far and conceded 4-48 which is very good considering the changes forced on management through injuries and experimentation.
Only 6 Armagh players have started all 5 league matches, defenders Charlie Vernon, Mickey Murray and Finnian Moriarty, midfielder, Aaron Findon and forwards, Miceal McKenna and Aidan Forker. Armagh Management though have used the league wisely with a total of 30 different players getting game time to date as Armagh push for a return to Division Two. There was a time when you could rattle off a dozen starters for Armagh prior to games but not any more. Armagh have used even 3 goalkeepers in the League so the formation of the team to face Louth is wide open as the pace to stake a claim for the championship squad hots up. Never mind the championship, if Armagh can win promotion on Saturday night it’s looking to cement a place in the Division Three League Final penned in for Croke Park on Saturday April 25.
It will be a case of third time lucky for Armagh as they will break the current Louth hoodoo by claiming a place in Division Two with victory over the Wee County to atone for the last two failed attempts.