Armagh 0-11 Monaghan 2-12
After suffering a 0-13 to 1-7 defeat at the hands of Westmeath last weekend, the Armagh under 20 side looked to bounce back and earn their second win of the league, as they hosted Monaghan in Mullaghbawn on Saturday afternoon.
This was certainly a game of two halves for Armagh, and they suffered their second loss from three games, their only win coming in round one against Cavan. The hosts lead for the majority of the opening half but a goal moments before the half time whistle allowed Monaghan to tie the game and push on to secure victory in a superior second half showing.
The Farney men got the game up and running, raising a while flag in the first minute before Armagh replied with four points in quick succession, Justin Kieran (3 frees) grabbing all of his sides scores.
Monaghan fought back with three points in a row to tie the contest 0-4 each before Pearse Ogs man Callum Murray nudged Armagh in the lead once again. Tiernan Kelly got his name on the score sheet to cancel out another Monaghan score while Murray hit his second to double Armagh’s advantage.
Monaghan clawed one back to reduced the gap to the minimum but two further points from Justin Kieran, Armagh’s main man throughout the contest, meant that the Orchard County held a three point lead with the half time break approaching.
Disaster struck just before the short whistle had sounded and all Armagh’s good work had been undone as Monaghan hit the net for the first time in the game to level the score at the interval, Armagh 0-9 Monaghan 1-6.
Midfielder Ciaran Mackin split the posts early in the second period to hand his side the lead but unfortunately for the Armagh men, it was all one way traffic for the remainder of the second half.
Monaghan responded with a point of their own to leave the sides on level terms once again before raising their second green flag and suddenly Armagh were behind and trailing for the first time since the opening minute of the game.
The men in orange and white had a huge mountain to climb now as Monaghan continued to tag on further scores and widened their advantage to six midway through the second period, with the two goals the difference between the teams.
Justin Kieran brought his personally tally to 0-7 with a pointed free but it wasn’t enough to spark a revival from his troops and Monaghan marched on with another two scores to see out the game, leading 2-12 to 0-11 by the time the referee called for the ball.
Armagh were missing star forward Cian McConville due to his Sigerson Cup commitments with St Mary’s and with their league campaign now wrapped up they will turn all their attention to the Championship, where they meet neighbours Tyrone in the opening round.
They have three weeks to prepare for the rivals, with the game taking place on the 15th of February and Armagh will again enjoy home advantage. Peter McDonnell gave a lot of player’s game time over the past three weeks and the Mullaghbawn man will now have the difficult task of picking his strongest 15 for that Championship clash.
Armagh Scorers: Justin Kieran (0-7), Callum Murray (0-2), Tiernan Kelly (0-1), Ciaran Mackin (0-1).