Armagh hurlers produced an impressive performance on Sunday, but just failed to hold out for the win, as Kildare claimed two points on the opening day of the Allianz hurling League Division 2A campaign.
Armagh, making their first appearance at this level, were slow to adopt to the higher tempo in Division 2A, as Kildare rushed into a 0-8 to 0-3 lead early on. Limerick’s David Reidy was to the fore for the visitors during this period. However, Armagh soon got to grips with their opponents and took over for the remainder of the first half. A Ryan Gaffney effort on goal was well-saved by the impressive Paul Dermody, who forced the sliotar over the bar, but the confidence gained from the attack kickstarted the Armagh revival. Frees from Danny Magee brought the margin down, but a few chances did go a-begging for the Orchard. With half-time approaching, a great ball in was gathered by Ryan Gaffney, who fed it through to the onrushing Magee, and the Lurgan man duly finished to the net to give Armagh the lead for the first time.
Half time Ard Mhacha 1-7 Cill Dara 0-9
Armagh got off to a decent start in the second half, with scores from Nathan Curry and Conor Corvan helping the cause. Half time substitute Eoin McGuinness and joint captain David Carvill won some great ball, as Stephen Renaghan continued to cause problems for the Kildare and Tipperary midfielders. Armagh’s opposition did come back into the game and after 50 minutes, a good score from Kilkenny’s former All-Ireland winner John Mulhall had the sides level 1-13 to 0-16. A Conor Corvan effort with two minutes to go had Armagh ahead, but the Orchard side spurned a couple more chances to secure the victory. With time running out, a free was denied to the home side and Kildare worked the ball up the field and disaster struck for Armagh as Kildare-native Jack Sheridan finished to the net to put them ahead, with a further point confirming that Kildare would claim the opening day victory.
Full time Ard Mhacha 1-15 Cill Dara 1-18
While Armagh will be disappointed at the outcome, they can take great heart from their performance. The fact that only 1-5 of Kildare’s tally came from Kildare hurlers should rankle with all proponents of hurling development, as the GAA continues to allow some of the non-Liam McCarthy counties, whose geographical location suits, to bring in players from the stronger counties. Armagh however, should have abolished any doubt about competing at this higher level and can look forward to another test against London on Sunday 19 February at 1pm in the Athletic Grounds.