Hurling & Camogie

Orchard have huge deficit to overturn in clash with Roscommon

ARMAGH have the chance to gain promotion to Division 2B and capture the League title when they take on Roscommon in Navan on Saturday.

Promotion from Division 3A has been the target for the Orchard county ever since they were relegated in 2018.

Since then, they’ve reached the League decider on three occasions but failed to get over the line each time.

In 2019, it was Roscommon who halted their promotion charge. The following season, Donegal edged out the Orchard, while in 2020, Sligo earned promotion by topping the table, with Armagh finishing in second place.

Last year, Armagh saw off Roscommon in the semi-final to set up a date with arch-rivals Tyrone. Again, it proved a step too far for the Orchardmen as the Red Hands prevailed with two points to spare.

Karl McKeegan’s charges face a familiar foe this afternoon and they’ve endured a fairly mixed relationship with Roscommon over the past few seasons.

The sides met three times last year, with the Rossies winning twice, but in very different circumstances. In the League, Roscommon edged a thriller, 2-17 to 1-19, before a Shea Harvey goal helped Armagh gain revenge in the semi-final, but when the sides clashed in the Nickey Rackard Cup, there was a much different, unexpected outcome.

Roscommon powered passed a helpless Orchard, who were playing on home soil, and delivered a fantastic performance to win 5-19 to 2-7. Unfortunately for the Armagh hurlers, the first meeting this year between the sides didn’t end much better, Roscommon easing to a comfortable 20-point win.

It proved to be only one of two wins for Seamus Qualter’s side, who beat Monaghan in the final round to proceed straight to the decider.

Armagh also saw off the Farney men in the semi-final to reach the showpiece, with goals from Harvey and Cormac Jennings proving decisive. And with that, Armagh earned the opportunity to battle it out with Roscommon once again and hope they can exact revenge.

To do that, they’ll have to shore up a defence that has conceded eight goals in six games, although Fintan Woods did keep a clean sheet the last day out. It’s worth noting, however, that Roscommon have hit just four goals in five outings.

Tiarnan Nevin is the rock of the Armagh defence, with assistance from Middletown club-mate Odhran Curry, they will need to be on guard for the scoring threat posed by the likes of Paddy Fallon and Mickey Joe Egan.

Fionntan Donnelly has been leading the way for the men in orange and white and the Armagh captain is the leading scorer throughout the entire division with 1-55 to his name. He’s helped upfront by youngster Tomas Galvin, Shea Harvey, Danny Magee and Cormac Jennings.

When Armagh hit the net, they usually win, which has been a running theme throughout the League. So, Karl McKeegan will have his men primed to rattle the net and that will offer the Orchard the best chance of earning promotion and getting their hands on some silverware.