Armagh’s National League fortunes will rest in the nether regions of Division 3 next season following the defeat against Donegal last Sunday at the Athletic Grounds.
The Ulstermen’s year will now hinge on the visit of Cavan in June for a crucial Provincial Championship game and team manager Paul Grimley will be hoping the unprecedented number of injuries sustained by his squad will improve over the pending seven weeks period.
In fairness to the Armagh manager even considering the professionalism of his back room staff his post match interviews over the past number of months rarely concentrated on his injury problems, but mostly focused on the responsibilities of the players who were fit to play.
While the technical issues which surrounded last Sunday’s defeat will be debated for some time, supporters would have to admit that over the past three seasons Armagh struggled to sustain their Division 2 standing a scenario which eventually imploded with Down’s defeat against Laois last Sunday.
With the odds plummeting on the County’s Ulster and All Ireland aspirations a winter and spring of discontent can evolve into a rewarding summer should Cavan be defeated in the Championship.
“We could have been awarded two penalties, on another day they might have been given,” said Grimley.
“This is a serious blow for the county, but there is no way the players could be faulted for the determination they have shown , not just against Donegal but throughout the league campaign.”
While all fans may not agree the county supremo also suggested that playing in the Third Division may release some pressure from his young players.
“Cavan, who have spent a period in Division 3, are serious contenders for the Ulster title. Armagh don’t want to be playing Division 3 football but if we can re-group from there and progress it can be used to our advantage.”
Two Michael Murphy goals paved Donegal’s path to the Divisional Final last Sunday, the home side found it difficult to handle Colm McFadden who scored five points on the day with Armagh’s main scoring threat Jamie Clarke being well policed by a host of Donegal defenders.
Clan na Gael’s Stefan Campbell had a couple of penalty shouts and Charlie Vernon had a satisfying afternoon marking danger man Murphy. Armagh were last relegated to the Third Division in the early 90s and the supporters will be hoping the injury blight is thwarted in the weeks leading up to Cavan’s visit to the Athletic Grounds in June.