Armagh hurlers earned a hard-won point on Sunday when a late flurry in additional time clawed back a four point deficit against a decent London side. In a game that ebbed and flowed, Armagh showed tremendous character to stem the tide as London threatened to pull away from the Orchard side late on.
The exiles opened brightly with Enda Cooney and Owen Shiels firing over early on. Conor Corvan hit a great score after winning the ball from the puck out and great work from Danny Magee led to a Cahal Carvill score to even matters. Points were again traded with Stephen Renaghan hitting Armagh’s score and a super save from Simon Doherty off a Daryl Roberts effort encouraged the home side. Armagh did push ahead thanks to Conor Corvan and David Carvill, but both sides were guilty of some wayward shooting in the first half. Armagh joint captain David Carvill fired over another after good work by Peter McKearney, but Armagh would rue their wides when Daryl Roberts finished to the net on the third time of asking after a high ball in. Carvill and London’s Steven Bardon traded scores, both from the dead ball and the teams were separated at half time by a Nathan Curry 65 as Armagh headed into the dressing rooms with the smallest of leads.
London took the lead early in the second half with Shane O’Donnell and Adam Murphy edging the visitors ahead, but much like the first half Armagh cancelled out those efforts with the Carvill cousins, David and Cahal making it 0-10 to 1-6. London continued to create plenty of chances on goal and The Armagh rearguard, who played very well throughout, breathed a sigh of relief as Kevin O’Loughlin’s effort tailed right across the goalmouth and wide. Points were again traded with London goalkeeper Eoin Kelly hitting his first and David Carvill hitting his fifth, as Caily Gorman entered the fray. Adam Murphy levelled matters and an impressive sideline cut from O’Loughlin began a period of dominance for the exiles. Two further scores from O’Loughlin and an Eoin Kelly converted free put them four ahead, but a close in free from David Carvill left things exciting. With 70 minutes approaching O’Loughlin looked to have secured the two points but a determined Armagh side had other thoughts. A great ball in from John Corvan caused panic in what was otherwise a solid London defence and Caily Gorman drove the ball to the net. David Carvill spurned an opportunity to equalise but Armagh did win the next puck out and with the four minutes of additional time almost up, it was half-time substitute Eoin McGuinness who got the equaliser that was met with delight by the home support.
While Armagh will have mixed feelings on a point gained or a point lost, they will be pleased to get their first point in Division 2A and will hope that it spurs them on for the upcoming season. Next up for Armagh is a daunting trip to Liam McCarthy outfit, Westmeath, but the Armagh hurlers have proved thus far that they are not in this division simply to make up numbers.
Photos by James McCann