Armagh are showing small shoots of revival

Armagh's Tony Kernan who hit a late goal at Clare.
Armagh's Tony Kernan who hit a late goal at Clare.

Armagh remain on target for a Division 3 final date in Croke park against Fermanagh following their hard fought win over Clare in Ennis last Sunday.

Kieran McGeeney’s side will return to the training ground for a period before re-emerging to face Louth on Saturday week in the Athletic Grounds.

While the County’s fans certainly won’t be getting carried away with their teams unbeaten league form this season, the fact that new manager McGeeney has used a big number of players to date would illustrate his willingness to bring a fairness to his selection policy.

Before stepping down from his post former boss Paul Grimley suggested that Armagh could benefit from building up a winning habit in a lower Division and although it can almost be taken for granted that this seasons All Ireland Champions will come from sides competing in the First Division, at least on a Provincial stage McGeeney’s team will be well organised for a crack at honours.

Against Clare, Armagh left out four starters from the draw against Fermanagh. In goals Harps keeper Pat Morrison replaced Niall Geoghan, Kieran McKeever was rested and although both Jamie Clarke and Andrew Murnan didn’t start they made telling contributions to the sides victory.

Against Clare, Aaron Findon, Aidan Forker and Tony Kernan were the stars of the show. Kernan hit 2-02 in the win including a late goal which came at a time when a surging 1-06 in the third quarter had placed the banner County in the driving seat.

Armagh’s win in Munster was secured following a backs to the wall last 20 minutes when they were playing with 14 men following the dismissal of livewire striker Michael McKenna, who by any standards has been in impressive form.

Although it was Clare who took the lead with points from Shane Brennan and Jamie Malone, Armagh began to settle and took control following goals from Ethan Rafferty and Tony Kernan to build up a lead at the break of 2-08 to 0-04 with points coming from Andy Mallon, Forker, Ethan Rafferty and McKenna.

Clare full forward Pat Burke hit his sides only goal of the game straight after the break which was followed by points from Cathal O’Connor, Gary Brennan and Podge Collins.Armagh in response introduced Steven Harold, Jamie Clarke and Andrew Murnan, Clarke was instrumental in setting up Tony Kernan for his crucial goal in the dying stages and Murnan not only won telling midfield possession but also got on the score sheet with a settling point.

Armagh’s recent promising form albeit against weak opposition, could signal small shoots of revival, with possible Ulster Championship opponents Tyrone and Donegal showing their mortality last weekend in defeats against Cork and Kerry.

McGeeney’s side with a settled side can pocket a Division 3 title before moving on to the Provincial stage, although Louth who visit the Athletic Grounds on Saturday week will be difficult to beat it would be hard to suggest that McGeeney’s side aren’t heading in the right direction.