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Armagh gain promotion after battling win against Louth

Action from Armagh vs Wexford in the Allianz National League. Photo by John Merry.

Armagh secured promotion from Division Three after crawling over the line against Louth at the Athletic Grounds tonight.

The game, hampered by the atrocious conditions at times, saw the hosts come away with a two point victory after stuttering for large parts.

Kieran McGeeney’s men racked up double-figures in wides and even afforded themselves a missed Jamie Clarke penalty.

With that result, Armagh can no longer be caught and will play Fermanagh in the League final should the Ernemen come through their game in Wexford tomorrow afternoon.

Armagh, playing against a strong breeze in the opening half, opened the scoring early on through Clarke after decent work by Andrew Murnin out the field.

Ryan Burns then scored his and Louth’s first of the game with a long distance free two minutes later.

Ethan Rafferty and Ciaran O’Hanlon extended the host’s lead by two with scores in quick succession.

Burns added another free before the moment of the first half. Murnin powered through the Wee County’s defence before being ruthlessly hauled to the turf leaving the referee with no option but to give the spot kick.

Clarke took responsibility for the kick but the Crossmaglen man saw his tame effort saved by the feet of Neil Gallagher in the Louth goal.

The visitors were proving difficult for Armagh to break down and they soon took the lead as Burns added another two scores from the deadball.

Clarke leveled it up on 27 minutes but Armagh squandered three glorious chances from frees – two for Kernan and one from Rafferty – and were punished when Burns slotted over just before the break to give Louth a one point lead.

However, Armagh still had time to level it up and Kernan duly obliged with a free right on the whistle.

Armagh began the second half with a brilliant long-range score from man-of-the-match Ciaron O’Hanlon.

And then the game really swung in Armagh’s favour when Dessie Finnegan saw red for a second yellow six minutes after the interval.

Nonetheless Burns, who scored seven frees added another two to give the travelling side a point point advantage on 50 mins.

Substitute Gavin McParland came close to netting a trademark goal but his effort in the 54th minute skimmed the bar and over after great work from Clarke.

Aidan Forker scored on 63 minutes but Derek Maguire responded to keep the pressure on the promotion-chasers.

But Armagh held their nerve as Aidan Forker pointed from a free with three minutes to go before O’Hanlon added another in injury time.

Louth had enough time to go for goal with a close-in free with practically the last kick of the game but the hosts held on to gain those vital two points, 12 months after relegation from Division Two.

Armagh travel to play Sligo next Sunday.

Recap: Live updates from Armagh v Louth at the Athletic Grounds

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