Niall Grimley rues one that got away after Armagh miss chance to stay top of Division Two in Westmeath
FIFTEEN minutes after the first whistle, Armagh led Westmeath 1-5 to no-score and wouldn’t have considered offers for anything less than two points from the game.
But, after a remarkable turnaround, 15 minutes before the final whistle the Orchardmen were three behind and would probably have taken your hand off for a point. In the end, thanks to a battling finish and Jamie Clarke’s late goal, they got one but it meant they forfeited top spot in the table in a typically tight, typically entertaining Division Two struggle.
Midfielder Niall Grimley was superb, particularly in the first half when his four marks (three of them from Westmeath kick-outs) paved the way for a steady stream of scores as Kieran McGeeney’s men established what appeared to be a match-winning position before three Westmeath goals turned an entertaining game on its head.
“I suppose, away from home in this division a point is probably massive but we were coming here to get the two points and we’re disappointed,” said Grimley, after the 3-12 to 2-15 stalemate.
“Westmeath put up a good fight, we had a good lead there and it slipped away from us. We just have to get back to the drawing board on Tuesday night, learn from our mistakes, take the positives out of it and move forward to Fermanagh next week.”
Westmeath had the benefit of a stiff breeze in the second half but Grimley didn’t feel the conditions were a major factor in their comeback.
“You should be able to play through the conditions,” he said, “Good teams find ways to win.”
His disappointment was understandable given Armagh’s first half dominance but the Orchardmen could easily have lost the match and manager McGeeney reminded his players of that after the final whistle.
“Geezer said to us that we showed a bit of fight to come back,” said Madden Raparees clubman Grimley.
“The two goals they got early in the second half were a killer and we just had to keep trying, keep clawing our way back into it and lucky enough we came out with a point. We still had plenty of chances to even win the game at the end but we got a point and you have to take the positives and the negatives and move forward.”
On Sunday Armagh travel to Brewster Park, Enniskillen where they take on a struggling Fermanagh side that slipped to the bottom of Division Two after losing to Cavan on Saturday night. With three games to go, Ryan McMenamin’s Ernemen are now desperately in need of a victory so Grimley is expecting a real test for Armagh.
“Any game against them, whether it’s a friendly, a Championship match or a League match, is a massive game, especially away from home,” he said.
“We’re away next week and it’s going to be another mountain to climb but we’ll knuckle down this week, get back into it and try and put in a shift next week.
“The way we look at it is – one game at a time. We can’t think of promotion or the next game after Fermanagh (Roscommon), we just take it one game at a time and try and get the result. If we have enough points to go up at the end of the League we’ll be delighted.”