Semi-Final spot on the line Wednesday Night?
Following their handsome 2-19 to 0-9 win over Queen’s in Group B, Armagh have set up a winner-takes-all clash with Down on Wednesday night at the Athletic Grounds for a semi-final place. Down followed up their opening win over Queen’s 1-11 to 1-8 with a 0-15 to 0-14 win over Derry and a win for the Mourne men will see them top the group and head into the last 4. A win for Armagh will see them surpass Down on scoring averages but if Derry beat Queen’s they too like Armagh (if they win) and Down will all be on the four point mark. One of the tied trio will emerge as Group winner with the second placed in the group hoping that they could pick up the best losers semi-final spot.
A draw for Section A leaders Monaghan at home to St Mary’s on Wednesday night will leave them as the group winners to play the Group B winners next Sunday in the semi-final. In the other semi-final the best losers will play the Section C winners currently headed by Cavan who have a mid-week home match with Ulster University whilst holders Tyrone take on Donegal, hoping to pick up the best losers place in the last four.
Kieran McGeeney posted 3 changes from the team that started against Derry as Ben Crealey, Ethan Rafferty and Ciaran White, all used substitutes in the Derry game replaced Simon McCoy, Niall McConville and Ciaran McKeever.
As the previous week Armagh failed to take their chances in the opening 20 minutes and trailed the students 2-1. Anto Duffy gave Armagh the lead with the opening point which could have been a goal with another goal chance from Ethan Rafferty well saved by goalkeeper John O Hare. Two Marty Clarke points one from a free and one from play gave Queen’s the lead until the 22nd minute when a Rory Grugan free levelled matters. Oisin Mac Iomhair opened his account following up to pointt after keeper O’Hare had denied Duffy a goal. Points from Aidan Forker, a MacIomhair free and one from Ben Crealey left Armagh 6-2 in front. The students reduced the deficit with points from Clarke and Aaron Morgan but those scores were cancelled out through efforts from Stephen Sheridan and Aidan Forker to leave it double scores at the short whistle 8-4.
The opening score of the second half came from the boot of Barry McCann but immediatle the score that killed the game as a contest arrived. A high ball was superbly fielded by Ethan Rafferty who then fired it to the Queen’s net to make it 1-8 to 0-5 from the kick out Conor White added an Armagh point all inside the opening 5 minutes. McCann grabbed his second point of the half before Anto Duffy with the fist and Aaron Clements exchanged points. Conor White was on hand to notch his second point after the ball came back off the post. Mac Iomhair, an Ethan Rafferty “45” and a Rory Grugan point took Armagh to 1-14 with the biggest applause of the day reserved for the introduction of substitute Jamie Clarke who was to mark his return to the county colours with a pointed free.
A Marty Clarke free brought the students to 0-8 but before their ninth point arrived via Aaron McClements Armagh had points on the board from Ethan Rafferty, Jemar Hall, Jamie clarke and Niall Grimley. Mac Iomhair cancelled out McClements point and the game ended as it should have started with an Anto Duffy goal which may yet prove vital when the scores for progress to the last 4 are being processed.