Armagh travelled to play Navan on Saturday still jubilant from their win over Skerries. Navan, on the other hand, were sore from their previous fixture having been defeated by Thomond.
Armagh kicked off in fine conditions in front of a very vocal Navan support. Immediately Navan made it obvious that they meant business and took control of both set pieces and open play.
The Armagh scrum, normally one of their strong points, was seen to break up under pressure from an enormous Navan front row. Only when Phillip Fletcher was subbed on was the tide turned.
After seven minutes the Navan out-half found a gap in the Armagh defense and touched down under the posts. He then converted to put Navan 7-0 ahead. This seemed to waken Armagh and after a beautiful display of handling from the entire backline Stuart Lester scored the first Armagh try. Shortly after this Phillip Fletcher forced his way over the Navan line assisted by Harry Doyle. For a mere five minutes Armagh led the score at 7-10, but another converted try brought the half-time score to 14-10.
The second half kicked off much like the first with Navan quickly landing another converted try. Armagh’s captain, Phill Hill, scored and Reaney’s conversion brought the score to 21-17. Indeed, for a brief spell Armagh appeared to take control of the game culminating with Seamus Mallon scything through the opposition to score left of the posts. The conversion levelled the score at 24-24 game on!
Navan, however, had other plans and another try and penalty ended the game with 32-24 on the score-board.
The body language of the two teams after the game said it all. The Navan team were seen and heard to celebrate whereas the Armagh team knew they had underperformed. On the day they appeared to be complacent and their lacklustre performance was just not good enough to stand up to the pace and confidence of Navan.
Granted the Armagh earned a solitary bonus point for scoring four tries but they slipped from fourth to fifth slot in the All-Ireland League table. Their win put Navan, up the league from ninth to sixth place. Next week Armagh entertain Sligo at The Palace Grounds. No doubt there will be some stern words heard from coach, Andrew Hughes, at training on Tuesday evening!