Following their narrow defeat in Cork to Sundays Well, the previous week, Armagh were looking to bounce back with a win against Leinster side Seapoint at the Palace Grounds. Despite their lowly league position, the Seapoint officials were confident of a win given they had narrowly failed to beat City of Derry the previous week and had a number of players returning from injury.
The only changes on the Armagh starting team were centre Stuart Lester making his first senior appearance of the season due to work commitments and John Faloon replacing the unavailable Andrew Willis on the wing. With horrendous weather conditions prevailing over the weekend many wondered if the game would be postponed, but the excellent drainage at the Palace Grounds ensured the match went ahead. The wind and driving rain however made it difficult and unpleasant for spectators, resulting in a full clubhouse.
City of Armagh kicked off with the wind behind them and looked to secure points in the first period. The heavier Seapoint pack looked to exert pressure on the home team and after a shaky start the Armagh set piece was solid. Ten minutes into the game, Armagh were awarded a penalty in front of the posts and full back Harry Boyd opened the home team’s account, 03–0.
On the twenty minute mark, Boyd had another successful kick to stretch Armagh’s lead to 06–0.
The weather conditions made handling very difficult and the backs were frustrated with their limited opportunities. The half time whistle went with Armagh ahead 06–0 and many spectators were thinking that would be insufficient to win the game when Seapoint turned around with the wind in their favour.
The second half commenced and the Armagh forwards were now clearly dominating the match. Captain Neil Faloon and prop Daryl Morton were causing havoc with storming runs into Seapoint territory. A further penalty to Armagh was converted again by Boyd to put Armagh 9 nil ahead with 30 minutes remaining. The remainder of the game saw Armagh pin Seapoint back in their own half and the visitors were unable to break out. Heroic defence from Seapoint held Armagh out on numerous occasions when it looked like a try would eventually come.
Despite a fantastic display by the Armagh team in horrendous conditions, there was no further scoring and the match ended with the home team victorious by 09–0. The controlled second half performance pleased the Armagh coaching team and the forwards excelled in their ball retention in shocking conditions.
Next Saturday, Armagh travel down to play the reverse fixture at Seapoint and the Leinster side will prove tough opposition again on their home ground.
Photo Credits: Ken Redpath