A: Athletic Grounds
The Athletic Grounds incredibly only held 4 of Armagh’s 17 games this season, Monaghan and Tyrone in the McKenna Cup along with Tipperary and Cork during the league. Armagh’s home games against St Mary’s (McKenna Cup) and Fermanagh (League) were played in Crossmaglen with their clash against Clare (League) played in Newry. The Athletic Grounds also hosted Antrim’s first round tie in the Ulster Championship against Tyrone.
Kieran McGeeney has now worn the Banisteoir Bib for five seasons with the Orchard County and following the huge strides his team made in 2019, Armagh fans will be hopeful that Geezer and his management team stick around for another year.
It was great to see the orange and white of Armagh back in Clones for the first time since 2014, not once but three times this season. Hopefully this Armagh team will have a few more big days out in Clones town in the next few years!
Two draws at the beginning of the league denied Armagh the chance to push for promotion. They continued to draw in the championship as well, with their games against Down and Cavan finishing on level terms after 70 minutes.
E: Extra Time
Armagh supporters got nothing easy in this year’s USFC! Extra time was called for against both Down and Cavan with the fingernails well worn out by that stage! They overcame rivals Down in the extra 20 minutes playing time but couldn’t pull away from the Breffni Blues in the Ulster semi-final.
March 16th was a sweet day for Armagh as they ended Fermanagh’s unbeaten run of five games in round 6 of the national football league while gaining revenge for their loss to the same opposition in the 2018 championship.
Only two games featuring Armagh ended goalless this season, the McKenna cup final against Tyrone as well as their Ulster semi final loss to Cavan. During the McKenna cup Armagh hit 8 goals while striking another 5 in the league, 7 was their return during the championship.
The county hurlers just lost out on winning the Nicky Rackard Cup after an agonising loss at the hands of Sligo while also finishing 2nd in the league, winning 3 of 5 games with only Roscommon finishing ahead of them by 2 points.
Armagh will surely be hurting after such a hard-fought game against Mayo ended in tears, but they can feel hard done by as Maurice Deegan’s inconsistent referring which certainly didn’t help them against the westerners.
J: John Cena
Rian O’Neill made the iconic John Cena ‘You can’t see me’ move his own after using the celebration after both his goals against Monaghan as well as after he netted against Mayo, a celebration we could see many more times in the future.
K: Kevin McLoughlin
McLoughlin’s 52ndminute goal was ultimately the score that cost Armagh a place in round 4 of the qualifiers. Although Armagh did get it back to a one point game by the time the final whistle sounded, the goal was a huge score to concede.
Jamie Clarke is off to London to tog out for club team Neasden Gaels, posing the question, will he feature for Armagh next season? Time will tell but he would be a massive loss for the county is he decides not to commit next season.
M: Mysterious Goals
Clare’s two goals that secured a draw on the second day out of the national league will live long in the memory of Armagh followers for all the wrong reasons. Had Armagh not have conceded the ‘mysterious goals’ that day their league campaign could have been much different.
N: New Jersey
Armagh played the 2019 season in a new jersey, released in November of last year, the jersey proved to be a fan favoured.
O: One Hundred % Attendance
Throughout the league and championship Blaine Hughes has started every single game for Armagh, the only player to do so in the 2019 season. He also started 4 of the 5 McKenna cup games, missing out on just one game (vs St Mary’s McKenna Cup R1) during the entire season.
Armagh experienced their best pre-season in years as they reached the McKenna cup final after winning four consecutive games against St Mary’s, Antrim, Monaghan and Donegal while just losing out to Tyrone on a score line of 0-16 to 0-14 with Armagh giving a great performance in the final.
Armagh are well used to the qualifier route at this stage and coming up against two experienced division one sides in Monaghan and Mayo can only bring them on. Beating Monaghan was a massive day for McGeeney’s men and on another day, they could have overcame the might of Mayo.
R: Return of the Mack
Cian Mackey’s introduction proved pivotal to Cavan in their USFC semi-final with Armagh as the Castlerahan man kicked three of the most important points of his county career, bringing the game to a replay and ultimately denying Armagh a spot in the Ulster Final as Cavan went on to win the replay.
S: Super Sub
Andy Murnin earned his Super Sub name with his introduction against Down, striking 1-1 with his only two touches of the game in extra time to give Armagh a one-point victory over their old rivals.
T: Twenty Twenty
Now 2019 is over attention will immediately turn to 2020. There is a lot of promise and optimism surrounding this Armagh side so promotion will not be beyond them and will surely be the target in the 2020 season.
U: Ulster Championship
It took 5 years but Kieran McGeeney’s first Ulster Championship win over was something special. Having led by 5 points with only moments left Down battled back to bring the game to extra time. But Armagh displayed their own battling qualities, digging out a famous one-point victory.
Armagh experienced the winning feeling 8 times throughout the season with a winning rate of 47%, losing 6 of their games (35%) and drawing three times (18%).
W: Women’s football
The ladies footballers made it to the 2019 Ulster Final where they were beaten on the day by a strong Donegal side but their season continues with upcoming ties against Cavan and Cork in the next few weeks.
Injuries ultimately cost Armagh as with a full team they could have overcame Mayo in round 3 of the back door. James Morgan, Ryan Kennedy, Andrew Murnin and Stephen Sheridan all missed out through injury while Oisin O’Neill never featured for Armagh this season.
“The future is bright” remarked Kieran McGeeney after the Mayo game and the introduction of youth has a big part to play in that. Ryan Kennedy, Aidan Nugent, Jarly Og Burns and Rian O’Neill all made their championship debuts this season with the likes of Oisin O’Neill, Ross McQuillan, Jason Duffy and Cian McConville coming through in the next few years.
The amount of times Jamie Clarke has missed the target from a placed ball in 2019. Zero. Dating back to the McKenna cup round 2 clash with Antrim, Clarke has scored 2-9 from his 11 shots from dead balls this season.