City of Armagh made the journey to Greystones for their final All-Ireland League match knowing they needed a bonus point win and hoping other results went their way if they were to make the promotion play-offs.
Stuart Hooks and Timmy McNiece returned to the side following last week’s disappointing defeat to Galwegians.
Armagh kicked off in bright, dry conditions and their chances of reaching the playoffs became more difficult after three minutes when a kick ahead by Greystones sat up perfectly for Irish Club International, Jack Keating, who sprinted in at the corner.
Kealy kicked the difficult conversion and the home side were ahead 7-0.
This setback seemed to kick-start the visitors and they began to use the strong wind at their backs to clear their lines and play the game in Greystone’s half.
Armagh’s patient build up play in the Greystones 22 led to their first score. After the pack went close with a number of carries, scrum half, Thomas Campbell spotted a gap and dived over. Outhalf Cormac Fox converted to tie the scores at 7-7.
Armagh continued to dominate but solid defence from Greystones kept the visitors at bay.
As halftime approached, Armagh moved into the lead when a fantastic team score was finished by winger Robbie Faloon in the left hand corner. Fox added the touchline conversion for a 7-14 lead.
The rest of the half saw the home side control the possession but they failed to breach the well organised Armagh defence.
The second half commenced with Armagh now playing into the strong wind and it was Greystones who started the stronger with a line break bringing them into the Armagh 22.
The referee penalised Armagh for slowing down the ball and full-back, Timmy McNiece spent the next ten minutes in the sin bin.
Greystones opted to kick into the corner but Armagh stole the ball at the line out and Campbell cleared up the
pitch. A man down, Armagh began to hold on to the ball and going through phases before they forced a penalty.
The kick to the corner saw Armagh pile on the pressure but a knock on allowed Greystones to clear the danger.
Restored to 15, the visitors took charge for the next twenty minutes and another flowing team move saw Andrew Willis receive the ball on the Greystones 22. The winger had a lot to do and after rounding one defender, he then fended off another to touch down in the right hand corner for a superb try. The conversion was
unsuccessful and Armagh were ahead 7-19 at the end of the third quarter.
Armagh gained their fourth try and the bonus point score when the pack marched a scrum over the line for number 8 Neil Faloon to touch down. The conversion was missed but Armagh had extended their lead to 17 points.
The final ten minutes saw Greystones throw everything at Armagh as they tried to get back into the game. A super break from half way by their centre was well supported and the home scored a converted try to make the scoreline 14-24.
With five minutes remaining, Armagh held firm and the final whistle went with the visitors collecting a bonus point win to move to 49 points in the league table.
With confirmation coming through that Cashel had lost heavily in Galway and Nenagh Ormond had got no points from their match at Malone, Armagh had jumped from fifth to third place in the league table due to their superior points difference.
Their reward is now a trip to Cork this Saturday to face Highfield who finished second in Division 2A.
The Armagh coaching team were delighted with the win. Willie Faloon commented: “We set ourselves a target to win today’s match, secure a bonus point and to not worry about the other matches. Results did go our way today, but looking at the season overall, our boys deserved a playoff spot and we look forward to the challenge ahead this weekend in Cork.”
Club President John Lennon congratulated the team and coaching staff, saying: “This is our first season in Division 2A and to finish in third place is fantastic. The playoffs are a real bonus for the team and we will give it our best effort at Highfield.”
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