Do or die for Orchard hurlers

By Shaun Casey


IT’S do or die for the Armagh hurlers this weekend as they aim to fight off the looming threat of relegation. If Cavan overcame Monaghan on Saturday and Armagh do the business against Louth, then Karl McKeegan’s side with avoid the drop to Division Four for next season.

Armagh have just one point on the board, thanks to their share of the spoils against Sligo in round two, so they’ll be aiming for their first win of the season at the BOX-IT Athletic Grounds on Saturday afternoon.

“Every game we’ve played it’s just the same thing, that we have to win,” said Orchard boss Karl McKeegan. “Against Cavan last week, if we’d have won that and won this weekend then we were in a league semi-final so it’s small margins in these leagues.

“We’ve underperformed all year, there’s no doubt about that. We’ve had some good halves of performances, but we haven’t put 70 minutes together yet and that’s the disappointing thing from our perspective so far.”

Armagh have been minus a few key men in recent weeks, no more so than Middletown duo Odhran Curry and Paul Gaffney.

“They’re two experienced players,” explained McKeegan.

“We haven’t had Odhran since the second game against Sligo and he’s a big loss to us because he’s a real leader in there now and he was excellent in their first two games.

“Losing a player like him, it’s hard to take and we’ve had a few different injuries throughout the year as well which means we’ve had to move the team about a bit, and we’ve had no real flow to it.

“It’s the last league game now and heading into championship, we have to try and find that and get a few of those injured boys back because their key men to lose. We’re still not sure if Odhran will be back this weekend or not.

“We’ll probably have big Paul back for the Louth game though which is good, he’s a really experienced head. We realise we’re in a dogfight and we’re going to have to knuckle down and we have to perform.”

Armagh were in a good position last weekend against Cavan, but the concession of two second-half goals saw them suffer a third defeat.

“There was a brave big wind, and we went 0-10 to 0-3 up at half time and I thought we’d played really well, and we were moving really well but the second half, we came out and we just didn’t play the same way as we did in the first half.

“That’s the disappointing thing about it and what we’re trying to work out, why we aren’t putting it together for 70 minutes because if we’d have played the same way as we did in the first, with a wind, we probably would have done enough.

“But credit must go to Cavan as well, they dug in and they got at us and they got those two goals in the second half which were the difference in the end.”

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