We’re done with the Dubs, now it’s time to take aim at early pace-setters Armagh. Dr Hyde Park in Roscommon is our home-away-from-home on Sunday for our NFL Division One Round 4 clash with the Orchard County (throw-in 2pm). The match isn’t being shown live on TV but Midwest will have live radio commentary on it. Meath’s David Coldrick is the ref.
Armagh are a county we’ve only met the odd time. In fact, the first time our paths ever crossed was in the All-Ireland semi-final of 1950, as we were closing in on the first of two Sam Maguire wins in succession.
In total, we’ve only met 16 times. Armagh have the edge on us, as we’ve won six and they’ve won eight, with two encounters drawn.
The most recent time we met them was, of course, in the Championship when we narrowly got by them in a Round 3 qualifier tie at McHale Park in late June 2019. We looked to have the match in the bag but they came roaring back into it and we were bloody lucky to escape with a single point win.
Prior to that nerve-shredding encounter, the most recent clash – and the last League meeting – with them was a full decade ago, back in February 2012, where we had a comfortable six-point win over them at the Athletic Grounds. 2011 was the most recent time we played them at home in the League (they won that one by a goal), while they also came out on top in the most recent match between us played on neutral turf – that was the 2005 semi-final, a few years before this blog’s inception, though I recall I was at that match in Croke Park.
We haven’t, of course, come across them in the League in recent years because they spent much of the last decade wandering in the wilderness of Divisions Two and Three. Their elevation to the top tier was a sliding mirrors moment for us as we dropped down while they went up.
It was up to a Covid-shortened League campaign for them last year. Corralled along with Donegal, Tyrone and Monaghan into Division One North, Armagh didn’t get the full Division One experience last year and not just because the campaign was played in the summer.
In what was a kill-or-be-killed three-match mini-league, Armagh finished third and so got pitched into a relegation avoider against Roscommon. They were a tad unfortunate to find themselves in such a predicament, as they’d beaten Monaghan, been beaten by Tyrone and drawn with Donegal.
Their luck was in for the relegation play-off, though, as they were awarded home advantage and they beat Roscommon decisively to preserve their top tier status.
Antrim were also seen off in emphatic fashion in the Ulster Championship quarter-final in early July, with Armagh banging in four goals that day in Clones. Two weeks later, however, they were the ones conceding four majors, as Monaghan just got the better of them in the Marshes, that provincial semi-final ending 4-17 to 2-21.
Ciaran McGeeney’s side would, along with Kildare (a county Geezer used to manage), have been many people’s favourites for demotion this spring. However, relegation isn’t as much of a worry for them now, as, like us, they’ve five points on the board after three rounds of matches.
Also like us, they’ve a victory over Dublin at Croke Park under their belts. It was a very similar win to ours too, with the Dubs stunned by the concession of two first half goals as Armagh ran out – as we did against them too – winners by five points.
The Orchard County backed that up the following weekend with an impressive 2-14 to 0-14 win over Tyrone at a packed Athletic Grounds. The only story that emanated from that match was the late flurry of red cards but that was a pity because it was a cracking contest and Armagh’s six-point win represented a serious statement of intent on their part.
A second game on home turf followed last weekend, as Armagh welcomed their Ulster conquerors from last year, Monaghan, to the Cathedral city. This was a far tougher contest for the Orchard lads, with Monaghan going in at the break four in front and stretching that lead to five early in the second half. Conor McManus’s dismissal on a straight red, however, turned the tide and in the end it took a late Jack McCarron free for the Farneymen to deny Armagh a third victory on the bounce, the match finishing level on a scoreline of 1-7 to 0-10.
Still, they’ll rock up at Dr Hyde Park on Sunday feeling good about themselves, as they’re still unbeaten after three rounds of Division One football. Then, of course, so are we. One of those unbeaten records may fall in Roscommon on Sunday or else we could end up playing out what would be a third-ever draw in this fixture.
Which is it to be? I’ll leave that one with you to ponder.
How will we go against Armagh?
- Win (64%, 684 Votes)
- Lose (22%, 240 Votes)
- Draw (13%, 143 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,067