2022 was certainly a year to remember for Armagh fans and probably the best season of Kieran McGeeney’s tenure.
Two big outings in Croke Park, a strong National league campaign and championship wins over old foes Tyrone and Donegal marked a memorable 2022.
Finishing third in Division One just proved what all Armagh fans already knew. This team belongs at that level.
Beating Dublin and Tyrone in the early rounds brought a sense of excitement and anticipation for the year.
The rest of the league was mixed, with just one more win in five games, but still confidence was high ahead of the championship.
But that day in Ballybofey was a real blow, to the team and the fans. If the league felt like a massive step forward, this was a huge lunge backwards.
With everyone available, even after the Letterkenny skirmish, there were no excuses for Armagh. And after their underwhelming performance, they didn’t try to give any.
Back door run
The team knuckled down, went back to basics, worked hard at training and took the county on a fantastic journey.
Their win over Tyrone in the Athletic Grounds marked their third victory over their fiercest rivals in a row.
An Aidan Nugent goal, two Ethan Rafferty points and some more excellent performances led the way to a great win.
As fate would have it, Donegal were the next mission. It was always going to be Donegal. This time things would be much different.
Rory Grugan had the ball in the net before a lot of people had sat down, but it was Donegal who were the better team during the first quarter.
Rian O’Neill buried a goal to turn the game and Stephen Sheridan’s second half major was the icing on the cake.
It got a huge monkey off the Armagh backs. Not only did they finally beat Donegal, but they hammered them. And retired Declan Bonner and Michael Murphy in doing so.
That led to another big day out in HQ and Armagh’s battle with Galway served up the Game of the Season.
Kieran McGeeney’s men looked dead and buried but two late goals and a monster kick from Rian O’Neill meant extra time was required.
The melee at the end of full time just added to the tension and temperature in the ground and the teams served up another compelling 20 minutes.
Armagh looked to have had it won, but Galway came roaring back and the Connacht champions eventually prevailed after penalties.
It was a heart-breaking defeat for Armagh. While fans were left scratching their heads after Ballybofey, they left Croke Park disappointed but full of pride.
Armagh aren’t far away and hopefully 2023 will be another step towards some silverware. Like last year, the large support base will be out in force and we all eagerly anticipate another fantastic year.