National Hurling League – Round Two
Sligo vs Armagh
Saturday 23rd May – Markievicz Park – 2pm
Armagh are on the road this weekend as they go in search of their second league win on the bounce.
They were much the better side on display in their opening encounter last weekend as they saw off the challenge of Longford.
The same opposition caused Armagh serious problems in the reverse fixture last season, but the Orchard County were a level above last Saturday.
Right from the off Padraig O’Connor’s men shot into the lead, 13 seconds after the first whistle, and stayed ahead until the last.
Two first half goals paved the way for what proved to be an easy win, and Armagh do carry a serious scoring threat.
Danny Magee has been a consistent performer over the last number of years, and he had a hand to play in both goals, netting the second one himself.
The Sean Treacy’s hurler rattled the net twice the last time Armagh faced off with Sligo in Croke Park two years ago.
Fionntain Donnelly impressed with his accuracy in round one, top scoring on the day with 0-11, and in the Keady man Armagh look to have found a reliable free taker.
Donnelly is a big target in the half forward line as well and Simon Doherty has the precision to find him with his puck outs.
Aaron Fox gave a commanding performance from centre half back last weekend but also bombed forward from defence to get on the scoresheet, as did Jim Short.
This weekend they head west to take on the newly promoted Sligo, who had a bye last weekend due to the five-team league.
The Yeats men enjoyed an unbeaten league campaign last season, seeing off Leitrim in the Division 3B final to secure promotion.
Sligo played in the Christy Ring Cup in 2020 and only featured in one outing, a three-point lost to Roscommon.
They return to the same competition this season, off the back of winning the 2019 Nicky Rackard Cup, something Armagh need no reminding of.
For the third time in five seasons Armagh reached the Nicky Rackard Cup decider but couldn’t get over the line that year.
2019s defeat to Sligo accompanied loses in 2015 and 2016, while they also suffered defeat in 2007 before winning it twice in 2010 and ’12.
One point was the gap between the sides when the referee called for the ball two years ago, despite Armagh being up by two at the interval.
Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch remains Sligo’s main scoring threat and he top scored for his side last year, Tiarnan Nevin could be tasked with the job of halting his influence.
Form is impossible to read as the westerners haven’t had any competitive action of yet, while Armagh have had just one outing.
That win and more importantly the brilliant performance will help to carry momentum into this weekend.
With confidence high and revenge possibly on their minds, Armagh will hope to pick up their second win in a row.