2022 has come and gone, but before we move on to the new season, we’ve taken a look back at a memorable year.
The Armagh Camogs made it back to the All-Ireland final, for the third year in a row. Unfortunately, the girls just came up short, losing to a rampant Antrim team in Croke Park.
Brendan Donaghy called time on his Armagh career, after 17-years of service. Donaghy was there for the good times and the bad and will be remembered as an Armagh legend.
Armagh were back in Croke Park this season and had two memorable outings at HQ in 2022. They successfully overcame Dublin in the opening round of the league and who could forget their quarter-final battle with Galway.
2022 was a great season but that day in Ballybofey will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. It was the one blot on an otherwise great year and Armagh’s struggles with the Ulster Championship continues. Armagh eventually gained their revenge though with a brilliant display in Clones.
Only back this year from tearing his ACL, Rafferty played a very different role this season. He stepped into the number one shirt and excelled, earning an All-Star nomination for his displays and bringing the ‘sweeper keeper’ term to a new level.
Armagh were involved in three melees this year, against Tyrone and Donegal in the league along with the row that broke out at the end of full time against Galway. Still, those brawls won’t be what 2022 will be remembered for.
Gerry Fegan Cup
It was only two years, but it was two years in the wilderness for Crossmaglen. They got back on top this season and got their hands back on the Gerry Fegan Cup.
Middletown remain the team to beat in the Orchard County. The four-in-a-row victors went all the way to the Ulster IHC final but lost out to a powerful Liatroim team.
Some of Armagh’s finest were living it up in America during the summer. The likes of Rian O’Neill and Justin Kieran gave some massive performance while spending the summer in the states.
Just in time
Shane O’Neill’s just about captured the Atty Hearty Cup, snatching victory right at the very end of their Intermediate Championship decider against St Paul’s.
Kings for a day
It’s twenty years from Armagh captured Sam Maguire. Their journey to Sam was perfectly illustrated in Niall McCoy’s brilliant book ‘Kings for a day’.
Both the Armagh hurlers and ladies reached their respective league finals in 2022 and unfortunately both lost out. The hurlers suffered defeat at the hands of Tyrone while the ladies were beaten by Kerry.
Rian O’Neill’s huge equaliser against Galway is surely the Score of the Season. With the pressure of an entire county on his shoulders, O’Neill fired over the score that brought Galway to extra time and added to the Game of the Season.
Remember Rian O’Neill’s penalty ‘miss’ against Monaghan in the league? He’s powerful shot crashed off the crossbar and bounced to safety but fan footage showed the ball had clearly crossed the line. Had it stood, Armagh may have reached a league final.
A number of Armagh players made their 100th county appearance this year. Stefan Campbell, Rory Grugan and Mark Shields for the men. Simon Doherty for the hurlers and Caroline O’Hanlon for the ladies.
It has to be penalties. Armagh were involved in two shootouts this year and lost both. Monaghan won the spot kicks during the McKenna Cup semi-final while Galway knocked Armagh out of the championship on penalties.
On the day when Messi finally claimed immortality, Armagh were represented in Qatar. An orange and white jersey was spotted on TV, and it turned out to be two lads from Armagh enjoying one of the biggest sporting occasions of all time.
Armagh turned a corner with Tyrone this year, beating them for the first time since 2014. Not only that, but the Orchard got three victories over their old rivals in the McKenna Cup, league and championship.
Seventeenth County Medal
Aaron Kernan picked up his 17th senior county medal in 2022. An incredible haul for Kernan, who will surely go down as one of the best club players the county has ever produced and he’s still doing the business at 39-years-of-age.
Before the Armagh and Mayo league match, Billy Joe Padden appeared on The Sideline Eye Podcast. Padden detailed his move from the West to the Orchard and how it all came about.
The Armagh ladies held onto their grip on the Ulster title with a dramatic, extra time win over Donegal. They were dead and buried several times but kept fighting and eventually got their reward. The Camogs also claimed provincial glory, defeating Antrim to secure back-to-back titles.
I’m maybe cheating here a bit as I’ve already mentioned Rian O’Neill’s point, but this one is about the fans. The noise of the Armagh support when O’Neill split the posts against Galway was unbelievable and that alone was one of the highlights of the year.
Tony McClelland’s freak goal against Killeavy in the SFC semi-final was one of the strangest three-pointers of the year. Everyone in the ground, apart from McClelland, assumed the wind had carried the ball wide but he kept his eye on it and finished the easiest major of his career.
Had Armagh a full compliment of players to pick from against Galway, would they have won the game? The injury list of players that would have started makes for tough reading. Niall Grimley, Tiernan Kelly, Oisin O’Neill all missed out. So did Ciaron O’Hanlon. And Ciaran Mackin was only fit to come off the bench.
The Armagh LGFA u-16 team were crowned All-Ireland champions back in July. Lucy Doyle claimed 1-5 as the Orchard County overcame Longford 1-14 to 2-4 in the decider.
It’s time for rest now, but the action is set to kick off soon enough again. The McKenna Cup is just around the corner, and it won’t be long until Armagh, at all codes, are back on the field.