Armagh 3-08 Wexford 3-08
CLAN na Gael’s Stefan Campbell hit a dramatic equaliser, but it was Gavin McPartland’s hat-trick which captured the headlines at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh last Saturday night where the home side secured a memorable draw against Wexford.
Having trailed by ten points at one stage during the opening half Paul Grimley’s team battled back under the influence of captain Ciaran McKeever who drove his side forward in an epic final quarter.
The Armagh boss was delighted to get his first league point of the season. “We made a lot of mistakes in the first half, but the team are realising that it takes character when your back is to the wall.”
While Armagh fans were delighted to see their side recover from such a bad start, it must be remembered that Wexford are longer odds than the Orchard County for the Sam Maguire Cup, in modern times however celebrating a partial success at your own level could be seen as maintaining an uneasy status quo.
Grimley has a long road ahead if he is to reach an acceptable plateau with the current crop of Armagh players, he will soon have a full deck to choose from and an achievable provincial goal to target, the positives of a draw albeit against Wexford will do the world of good and now two further points can be targeted against Longford next time out.
Grimley spoke highly off his players, “We were up against it tonight but you couldn’t fault the boys for their effort.” Falling behind to three Wexford goals scored by Redmond Barry, Peadre Byrne and Shane Roche and with only a Stefan Forker free to show for their efforts in the opening 32 minutes the home side, following the introduction of Ballymacnab’s Gavin McPartland, became reborn. All four substitutes introduced by the Armagh management played their part, McPartland’s hat-trick was the saving of the match and contributions from Brendan Donaghy, Kevin Dyas, James Lavery and Stefan Campbell who struck the equalising point all were crucial, rarely it should be said have replacements made such a telling impact.
Paul Grimley can look forward to the next game and the visit of pointless Longford to the Athletic Grounds. It would be hard to argue against the inclusion of the subs who made a big impact against the Model County being let loose next time out.
Armagh: P McEvoy; M Shields, J Donnelly, D McKenna; C McKeever, A Forker 0-1, B Loughran 0-1; S Harold, K Toner; C Rafferty, N McConville, E Rafferty 0-1, E McVerry, S Forker 0-4 (3f), B Mallon
Subs: J Lavery for Harold 23, G McParland 3-0 (one pen) for McConville 26, B Donaghy for McVerry 31, S Campbell 0-1 for Toner 66.
Wexford: A Masterson; B Malone, G Molloy, R Tierney; L Chin, J Wadding, A Flynn; D Waters, C Doyle; M Furlong, B Brosnan 0-5 (4f), P Byrne 1-0; S Roche 1-1 (1f), R Barry 1-0 (pen), PJ Banville 0-2
Subs: R Quinlivan for Doyle 42, J Holmes for Furlong 55, D Murphy for Flynn 65, C Carty for Roche 68.
Referee: Joe Curley (Meath).