By Shaun Casey
ARMAGH’S first objective for 2023 was met last Saturday as they reached the semi-finals of the Division 3A league with a one-point win over Fermanagh.
They’ll now face Monaghan, with the prize on offer a spot in the league final against Roscommon and a shot at promotion.
Monaghan overcame the Orchard County by one point in round two, so Armagh manager Karl McKeegan is pleased to get another crack at their neighbours.
“At the start of the league we said that we wanted to get into the semi-final of the league,” said McKeegan. “Obviously you’d have liked to get straight into the final but we’re into the semi-final and that’s where we want to be.
“I’m delighted for the lads; they’ve put in a lot of work and trained really hard so it would have been a sad end if we didn’t make it. We played some great hurling today and it was a good game overall.
“We were down to 14 men after ten minutes that day (against Monaghan). The boys were hurting from it, but you always get chances to get back at it and this is our chance. It’s the semi-final of the league so no better place to go up against them.
“They’ll fancy their chances as well of course, they’ve already beat us, but if we play the way we played in the second half today with that good movement and that we’ll be hard to work with.”
Last weekend’s win over Fermanagh was far from comfortable, despite Armagh leading by six points with only a few minutes remaining. Fermanagh nabbed two late goals, but Armagh held on to win by the minimum of margins.
“We had been starting poorly and we concentrated on starting well which was great. Then they got the goal and our boys heads dropped again but they hung in there to half time because it was a strong enough wind.
“We knew at half time we needed more movement and more work-rate and I think we saw it in the second half. Once we started moving that ball quick, we played really well. It’s not rocket science; we can see what works so why not do it more often.
“We were cruising, and we looked like we were going to kick on and win by 10 or 12 points but getting the man sent off (Conor Reneghan), we sort of lost our shape. Fermanagh hung on in there, but we put our bodies on the line and that’s all you can ask.”
Two goals from youngster Tomas Galvin made all the difference and the Keady man finished with 2-3 to his name. “Young Tomas was carrying an injury going into today’s game and he was brilliant,” added McKeegan.
“We’re training and then a match every week, so you don’t get much time to recover but the boys that are there all want to be there and they’re pushing really well so we’ll have a good week’s training, and we’ll see who wants to step up and get onto the team.