Armagh got their Nicky Rackard campaign off to a nervy start in a wet and rainy Athletic Grounds on Saturday with a 2-16 to 2-11 win over a good Louth side. The game was preceded by a minute’s silence in memory of Sarah Rellis, mother of Louth senior hurler Gary, and Armagh GAA would like to extend our sympathies to Gary and to the Rellis family. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam uasal.
Louth got off to a great start with the opening point through Gerard Smyth quickly followed by a three pointer from full forward Seán Connelly. Martin Moan opened the scoring for the home side and when a second effort from Moan came off the post, Eoin McGuinness was well placed to bury the ball to the Louth net. Points were traded from the dead ball and it was Ryan Gaffney who rose highest to catch the sliotar from a Cahal Carvill sideline cut and turn and kick to the net to put Armagh 2-2 to 1-2 ahead. Stephen Renaghan and Caily Gorman hit scores for Armagh, but pointed frees from Louth’s Liam Dwan cancelled those efforts out. Further scores from Dwan and Louth midfielder Roger Maher reduced the difference but Nathan Curry kept the Armagh scoreboard ticking with a converted free. Sean Connelly added his second of the game for the Wee County, as the Armagh wide count continued to grow. A free from Liam Dwan which dropped short was caught by Nathan Curry and worked up the field, with Cahal Carvill finding his first score, but two late scores from Louth, through Liam Dwan and Darren O’Hanrahan meant the Orchard county would go in one point ahead at half time.
Half time Ard Mhacha 2-6 An Lú 1-8
Only for some wayward shooting from the Louth men in the first half, Armagh may well have found themselves behind and it was obvious that an improved performance was required in the second half. Armagh put the pressure on Louth early on in the second half and three consecutive scores from Ryan Gaffney from the deadball pushed the Orchard ahead. Armagh could have went further ahead when a 65 dropped short falling to first half goalscorer Eoin McGuinness who clipped the ball just wide of the post. Louth, however, had no intentions of throwing in the towel and Roger Maher fired a shot on goal with Simon Doherty getting his hurl to it, but unfortunately for the Armagh number 1 the ball just crept over the line. Darren O’Hanrahan pulled another back for Louth to level the game 2-9 apiece. Points were traded from the dead ball with Gaffney and Dwan the scorers, but Armagh again pushed ahead with Caily Gorman winning a great ball in from Connor Devlin and adding his second of the game and second half replacement Declan Coulter getting on the scoresheet.
Armagh were awarded a penalty with 10 minutes to go, with Eoin McGuinness bearing down on goal being hauled to the ground. Coulter stepped up to take it, but his effort was saved by Louth keeper James Connolly, who pushed the ball over the bar. Armagh led at this point 2-13 to 2-10, but pushed further ahead with Connor Devlin converting, having been set up by Cahal Carvill who worked well to win the ball. Points were added by Coulter and Gaffney for the Orchard county during the four minutes time added on and the final score of the game fell to Louth topscorer Liam Dwan. While manager Sylvester McConnell will be glad to get the win, he will be looking for a much better performance next Saturday from the Armagh boys. Comhghairdeas le hArd Mhacha ar an bhua agus go n-éirí turas Niocláis Mhic Riocaird leo. Well done to Armagh on the win today and all the best for the rest of the Nicky Rackard tournament.
Full time Ard Mhacha 2-16 An Lú 2-11
Armagh: Simon Doherty, Odhrán Curry, Ciaran Clifford, Connor Devlin 0-1, Kieran McKernan, Nathan Curry 0-1 (0-1f), Pauric Hughes, Stephen Renaghan 0-1, Shea Gaffney, Ryan Gaffney 1-6 (0-4f), Cahal Carville 0-1, Eoin McGuinness 1-0, Martin Moan 0-1, David Carville, Cailin Gorman 0-2 Subs used: Declan Coulter 0-3 (0-1pen) for David Carville, John Corvan for Pauric Hughes, Artie McGuinness for Cailin Gorman
Louth: James Connolly, Eoin McKeown, Johnny Carter, Andrew McCrave, Jason Condon, Brian Carter, Cathal Ryan, Colman O’Reilly, Roger Maher 1-1, Gerard Smyth0-1, Liam Dwan 0-6 (0-4f,0-1 65), Darren O’Hanrahan0-2, Gavin Kane, Sean Connelly 1-1, Andrew Mackin Subs used: Paddy Lynch for Colman O’Reilly, Gavin Kerrigan for Jason Condon, Conor Deane for Andrew Mackin, Gary O’Brien for Darren O’Hanrahan