By Michéal McKenna at the Athletic Grounds
ARMAGH 1-05 V 0-11 DOWN
IT was a disappointing night for Armagh as they crashed out of the Ulster Under-21 championship to neighbours Down at the Athletic Grounds.
Mattie Lennon’s Armagh were poor for large parts of the game and only managed to register a single score in the first half of football – that coming from the boot of Eddie English.
Down raced into a three point lead early on and probably should have had a couple of goals only for some great goalkeeping and Down profligacy in front of the posts.
When Armagh did manage to register it was only a matter of seconds before the Mourne men had the white flag raised at the opposite end of the field.
Four more points for Down before the break left six points between the sides and it was a scoreline that was probably fair, as time and time again, Armagh squandered possession in the final third of the field.
However, the second half was an improvement and the introduction of Aaron Findon helped stem some of the Down pressure. Within a minute of the restart Aiden Forker pointed well after some good build-up play.
Nonetheless, three unanswered Down points seemed to have ended this game as a contest but credit to Lennon’s charges, they were not to go fall within a final sting of the tail.
Two Niall McConville frees and an excellent Jemar Hall point reduced the deficit to five until Jerome Johnston added another for Down. And with the clock ticking into injury time Armagh needed something special – or two something specials, and they got one.
A 21-yard free was awarded to Armagh in which Aiden Forker took and walloped into the roof of the net. With one minute remaining this tie was down to one score but unfortunately Down saw the remaining 60 seconds out.
As a result Armagh crash out of this year’s championship and Down march onwards to a semi-final.