Armagh hurlers suffered a narrow defeat on the opening day of their National League campaign at the Athletic Grounds.
Armagh made a bright start with Ryan Gaffney, Conor Corvan and Declan Coulter hitting early scores. Down however settled into the game and went 0-6 to 0-3 up but Armagh won a penalty, which was superbly saved from Artie McGuinness. Coulter and Corvan added to their tallies before the first goal of the game from John Corvan to put Armagh back ahead. Conor Corvan and Eoin McGuinness pointed either side of three Down points, but the Ardsmen went ahead through a goal from Danny Toner and Conor O’Prey tagging on another point, before Nathan Curry hit the last score of the half.
HT Ard Mhacha 1-8 An Dún 1-9
Down opened the scoring after the break and Ryan Gaffney steadied himself to hit a free, having missed a couple at the start of the half. Conor Woods and Caolán Bailie added points for Down and Scott Nicholson and Armagh’s Conor Corvan traded scores. Armagh cursed their luck with a couple of efforts coming off the upright. Down moved further ahead when a Conor Woods sideline cut finished straight to the net to leave the score 2-14 to 1-10.
However, Armagh never lost heart and came back into the game with two scores from Gaffney and one from league debutant Dylan McKenna. Down hit a further two points which looked to be insurance scores but the ball was worked up the field and finished to the net by Conor Corvan to leave three in it as the game entered added time. With seconds remaining, Ryan Gaffney hit a point but it proved to be the last puck of the ball and Down prevailed by two points.
FT Ard Mhacha 2-14 An Dún 2-16
Armagh will need to regroup before travelling to Donegal on Sunday. Manager Sylvester McConnell will take positives from today’s game, but it was a game that Armagh should have got something out of.
Photos by John Merry