Armagh continue search for first win

By Shaun Casey

ONE point from three games sees Armagh anchored at the bottom of the Division 3A league table with the chance of reaching a league final looking slim, although not impossible, for Karl McKeegan’s side.

An automatic place in the league final is beyond them at this stage, but they can still finish either second or third to qualify for a semi-final.

Two defeats to league leaders Mayo and Monaghan either side of a well-earned draw with Sligo has been their record so far, with the test of an away day trip to Cavan coming up for the Orchard County this weekend.

Armagh reached the league decider last season, losing to Roscommon, and getting back to that stage would have been at the forefront of their ambitions for 2024, but they have a bit to go if they are to achieve that goal.

Boss Karl McKeegan has given plenty of players game time over the opening three rounds, but the star of the show has been former Antrim underage hurler Alex O’Boyle.

He has been outstanding in front of the posts across the first three rounds and has carried the Armagh scoring burden this year. O’Boyle has chalked up 2-29 in three games, with almost half of his point tally (0-15) coming against Monaghan the last day out.

Fionntan Donnelly (0-4), Niall Lennon (1-1) and Paul Gaffney (0-3) are the only other players that have recorded more than a single point so far while nine players in total have got on the scoresheet for Armagh.

So, the mission for Cavan this Saturday afternoon will be fairly straightforward. If they can shut down the scoring exploits of Armagh’s attacking ace O’Boyle, then they stand a brilliant chance of dismantling the Orchard forward line.

Despite defeat the last day out, Armagh did keep a clean sheet which was one positive to take away. Connor McAnallen was between the sticks that day, making his first appearance of the season, and he may just edge ahead of Fintan Woods once again this weekend.

Captain Tiarnan Nevin remains the backbone of their defence along with the experienced heads of Kieran McKernan and Barry Shortt.

Cavan will be a new challenge for the Orchard County as the two teams haven’t crossed paths in recent years, but Armagh know if they don’t play to their true potential then Cavan pose a potential banana skin.

The Breffni Blues earned promotion from Division 3B last season and their one win over Louth split two defeats to Sligo and Mayo, who are both unbeaten at the minute and hold the top two positions.

Cavan boss Ollie Bellew will have an in depth knowledge of the Orchard County having worked with Armagh club Cuchulainns last season and that could give his side a headstart.

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