Armagh left to settle for play-offs
Thursday, 20 April 2017
SATURDAY afternoon saw Armagh host Dublin side, Bective Rangers, in the final scheduled fixture of the Ulster Bank All-Ireland League.
CITY OF ARMAGH ...36
BECTIVE RANGERS ...16
Currently Armagh held on to second position in the 2B League a single point behind, rivals, Greystones.
This side having a significantly better points difference were almost certainly destined to take the league honours.
As Bective's captain Gearoid O'Grady kicked-off there was an intensity in the air seldom experienced in the Palace Grounds.
After only five minutes play Armagh's full-back, Timmy McNeice, dived over to score in the left corner.
Harvey Young's difficult conversion was on target to open the score at 7-0. Just after the re-start Armagh were penalised fjust outside their '22' for collapsing a maul.
The Bective captain's kick opened their score at 7-3.
Although the Armagh's pack was visibly lighter they were seen to more than hold their own in the set pieces due to better technique.
They were, however, caught off-side and, again the penalty kick was on target to narrow the score to 7-6.
The narrowed score-line appeared to boost the moral of the visitors and another successful penalty kick put them 7-9 ahead for their efforts!
Armagh kept focussed and were rewarded after a series of 10-11 phases of play inside the Bective '22' when the Armagh scrum-half Harry Doyle dived over to score Armagh's second try.
The conversion carried wide in the freshening breeze to leave the score at 12-9.
Armagh appeared to step up a gear at this stage of the game and a spirited run from second row forward, Josh McKinley just failed when he was forced into touch five metres short of the Bective try line.
The visiting full-back was caught off-side and Armagh went for the corner touch option.
The line-out was secured which, in turn, set man-of-the-match, Stuart Lester, free to score a text book try under the posts.
Harvey Young's conversion brought the half time score to 19-9.
With the breeze freshening the second half started off with a Bective back row forward being penalised for 'breaking his bind' in a scrum just left of the posts.
Unfortunately the wind carried the ball left of the posts.
The visitors came back into the game again when Aidan Mulligan scored a try which, when converted, narrowed the score to 26-16.
Within five minutes of the re-start the Bective captain and kicker,O'Grady, was sin-binned for a high tackle.
Another try from Armagh's Stuart Lester sealed the result as he scored the bonus point try.
Cormac Fox's conversion was on target to bring the score to 31-16.
Armagh's final score came form a copybook try when the ball was quickly passed along the backs to winger, Ryan Purvis, who touched down in the left corner.
The final score 36-16 reflected a sound performance from the Armagh side.
With Greystones winning 45-10 over Old Crescent the net result of the afternoon was that Greystones won the league and promotion, whereas Armagh had to be content with second spot. Armagh now have to play Dublin side, Wanderers, at the Palace Grounds next Saturday in the first game of their two legged play-off fixture.
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