BOYNE 18 ARMAGHrugby 20
Following their convincing 37-6 win against Queens University last fixture Armagh again travelled South into Leinster with an air of confidence to play their eleventh game in the Ulster Bank All-Ireland League of the season. Having won eight of these games and losing three they occupy third spot, if somewhat precariously. Those three defeats may still haunt them before the end of the season as the are dangerously short of match-winning bonus points. Although they are on similar match wins as second place Tullamore they have secured seven match winning bonus points to Armagh’s solitary one point! When the last game of the season comes to a close this gap may well be crucial!
Saturday’s game kicked off in bright, if brisk, conditions with a stiff breeze at the backs of the home side. As if by magic this spell of sunshine changed in the first moments of the game to what could only be described as a blizzard! There was rain, snow, sleet, and a biting wind now at the backs of the Boyne team. Their out-half took full advantage of this phenomenon and kept pinning a struggling Armagh defence back inside their ’22’. Eventually Armagh were penalised for failing to release a ball after a tackle and the home number 8, Mark Keogh, stepped up to take the kick from inside his own half. The kick was right on target to put Armagh 3-0 down. Just two minutes later a similar infringement saw Keogh send another fine kick between the Armagh posts. To add to their worries Armagh’s defence was breached by some casual tackling which enabled Boyne to score what appeared the simplest of tries. Unfortunately for Boyne their kicker was forced to leave the field with a leg injury and the conversion, in this case, went wide! But with a 11-0 scoreline and a rampant Boyne attack with an equally vocal support from the touch-line Armagh had a real mountain to climb if they had any desire to win this game!
Just before the break the maturity of Armagh began to show and they began to show that they had the ability to restore their dented confidence. They began to dominate the scrums an seemed able to hold on to the ball when using their backs. But it was up front, in the forwards, where the revival showed most as scrum after scrum went to Armagh. This eventually resulted in Neil Faloon forcing his way over for one of his signature tries from the back of a ruck. Andrew Magowan kicked the conversion to narrow the score to 11-7 at the break.
The conditions seemed to play right into Boyne’s hand in the second half in that the wind,rain,snow,sleet etc. had all died away and Armagh had no wind at their backs like Boyne had in the first half. At this stage of the game it was seen that Armagh were beginning to take control of both set pieces and open play. Two penalty kicks from Andrew Magowan edged them ahead 11-13 but when Manihera Eden broke through a Boyne tackle he was able to feed the ball out to Robbie Faloon on the left wing to send hin in for Armagh’s second try. Again Andrew Magowan’s conversion was on target to set the score at 11-20. This seemed to seal the game in Armagh’s favour. Boyne, however, never gave up and their full-back, Eoghan Duffy sailed through some more slack Armagh defence to score a fine try. The Boyne out-half, Tyler Lansdowne’s conversion narrowed the score to a nail-biting 18-20 with four minutes play remaining! By the end of play Armagh had managed to preserve this narrow margin and we’re glad to return home with the four league points! This meant that they still hold on to third league spot!
It still remains somewhat of a mystery as to how or why can this side put in tremendous performances against the likes of Queens, Ballymena, or Malone! Yet when it comes to teams in the lower echelons of the All-Ireland League the appear to make hard work screwing o narrow win out of the encounter!