Armagh are aiming for their first league victory

By Shaun Casey

AFTER picking up one point from their opening two outings, Armagh head to Castleblayney this weekend in search of a first win, but their hosts Monaghan, who lost both their matches, are aiming for the same goal.

Last year the sides clashed twice in the league, with each team chalking up a victory each, with Armagh accounting for their neighbours in the Division 3A semi-final while the Farney men saw off Karl McKeegan’s side in round two by one point.

“From what I’ve learned of Monaghan, they just don’t go away and that first day, we started off quite well, but they dug in and got the result,” recalled Armagh boss McKeegan. “We won by 10 or 12 in the second game, but we only pulled away near the end.

“This league, there’s not a whole lot between any of the teams. I know Mayo gave Monaghan a bit of a tanking, but we would never take any of the teams for granted so we’ll just have to knuckle down, train really hard and get ready.

“We have one point from two games, so we need to start getting wins on the board if we want to reach a league final or a league semi-final.

“Away to Monaghan, it’ll not be easy because they’ll be hurting from the Mayo defeat. We have a panel there and it’s a big league, so we’ve got to see a few more players and it’s up to everybody to push.

“That’s brilliant when you have a panel of 30 or 31 players, and everyone is pushing hard to get a place on this team and that’s all you can really ask for.”

Armagh head into the game off the back of a 1-15 to 2-12 draw with Sligo. Alex O’Boyle hit 1-9 for the Orchard County and it was his late free that not only secured a share of the spoils but also Armagh’s first point of 2024. Having trailed by four leading into the final few minutes, McKeegan (pictured) was relieved to get a draw. “We had mixed emotions after the game, but it was probably a point earned because we went four down,” added McKeegan.

“We started the second half really well and got ahead, but we didn’t push on and credit to Sligo, they came back into it. From that point of view, we’d be disappointed because I thought we could have got the two points but we’re happy enough to get the one point.

“There are great positives to take from that game and when it looked like it was gone, Fintan Woods pulled off an incredible save and that gave us a wee lift and we pushed on from that to get the draw.

“We show great characteristics at times and then at other times they don’t trust themselves enough which is what they have to do but that’ll come with time. From the first game to the second game, the learnings were incredible and that was great to see.”

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