Westmeath 0-17 Armagh 0-16
ARMAGH provided their best league performance of the season in front of a dwindling band of travelling supporters at Cusack Park last Sunday, but came away empty handed and now left to as ponder the implications of a defeat against Galway in the final game of the current campaign.
Notwithstanding the doggedness of this particular crop of Orchard players, Division three football is now a real possibility and even landing both points next time out may not guarantee the maintaining of the sides status quo.
Aaron Kernan was both the sinner and the saint against Westmeath last Sunday, the Rangers player shot seven points for his side but hit a difficult free to the right of the posts inside the dying seconds to allow the Leinster men to survive by the narrowest of margins and secure their promotion to the second flight.
Armagh boss Paul Grimley wasn’t pushing any blame in the direction of his wing half. Aaron has rescued Armagh many times in the past. “There was a difficult breeze to content with out there,” said the boss. “It wasn’t an easy free by any means.”
Armagh are now stirring down the barrel of relegation for the second time in two years, they will have a fortnight to lick their wounds as they prepare for the visit of Galway to the Athletic Grounds on April 7th, but supporters would no doubt re-collect the 20 plus points tally notched up by the Tribesmen on their last visit to the venue.
A retrospective assumption would indicate that Jamie Clarke is badly missed and while Stefan Forker has been the main talisman up front this season it will take another four forwards firing on all cylinders in the Championship campaign to make any sort of impression.
Playing with the wind Armagh led by 0-10 to 0-05 at the break, mostly thanks to Aaron Kernan’s accuracy from frees and the industry of Maghery’s Stefan Forker. The brilliance of the home sides Denis Glennon caused Paul Grimley’s side all sort of problems. Glennan shot four points from play which were supplemented by the impressive Dessie Dolan who was sprung from the bench in the second half. Within seven minutes of the restart Westmeath had their supporters in the 3,000 strong crowd on their feet with points from Martin Glennan at the double, McCormack and Ger Egan who took a coat of paint off the crossbar,
Tony Kernan responded for the visitors, Dessie Dolan with a brace and Armagh scores from Vernon, Aaron Kernan which was followed by a sweet strike from Cruppin’s Steven Harold put Grimley’s side in front at the end of the third quarter of a hectic encounter.
As both side pushed desperately for match winning scores, Glennon with his fourth point, and a score from Heslin gave the home side a narrow lead, Aaron Kernan’s late miss would have given the Ulster men a deserved share of the spoils, but it wasn’t to be.
Now a win is a must against Galway as Paul Grimley ponders the quality of some of his players and considers their future potential to perform even in Intercounty Division Two football.