Armagh welcomed Ulster rivals Ards to the Palace Grounds for their final home game of what has been a relatively successful AIL Division 2B campaign knowing a victory could secure their highest All Ireland finishing position since their return to senior status three seasons ago.
And it was smiles all round after an extremely competitive match saw Armagh deservedly win 18-0.
After the match Armagh head coach Andy Hughes was naturally delighted to have completed their home fixtures with a convincing victory.
“Following our fast start when we scored 10 points inside the first five minutes I was disappointed we did not push on from this and dominate the game,” he said.
“Injuries to key players, however, disrupted our game plan and although the replacements did very well, it was hard to keep the momentum going. We probably created more chances than the final score would suggest but our final pass let us down on several occasions. Defensively we were outstanding and so we will take the positives from this game and hope to finish the season on a high by beating Middleton in Cork.”
Dejected Ards head coach ex-Ulster winger Stuart Porter was at a loss to explain his teams poor performance.
“We dominated in the scrum line-out and in general play but our handling and decision-making was as bad as it has been all season. We appeared to suffer from goal-line fever when we must have butchered at least three clear scoring chances. However we have improved from last season and I am confident this young side will only get better.”
The game itself was a typical feisty local derby which Armagh, although under severe pressure at times from the large Ards pack, deserved to win because they took their two clear chances when presented.
The first by S Morton following a slick handling back movement and the second by Mallon when he was first to react to an astute kick by out-half Magowan in behind the Ards defence. Captain Reaney’s two successful penalties and one conversion completed the scoring.