Following a two week break Armagh welcomed a Portadown side to the Palace Grounds aiming to get their season back on track after their cup loss to Omagh on their last day out. Armagh sitting mid-table in the Minor League East 2 knew if they could get a result from this fixture it would set them up nicely entering a hectic fixture list of games in the four consecutive weeks to teams all sitting above them.
The lads got off to a great start scoring the first try of the game, they worked the ball well up the field and saw the line at their mercy only for one of their forwards to knock the ball on. From the resultant scrum Armagh were able to turn their opponents over and Scrm half Robert Davidson crept over and touched the ball down. Matthew Heaney added the conversion to give Armagh a 7-0 lead. Great defense from Armagh ensured their slender lead remained intact after sustained pressure from the Portadown forwards. The hosts discipline around ther break-down was beginning to cause some concern conceeding penalty after penalty. Portadown opted to kick towards goal on one of these penaltys with former Armagh back Rory McCreesh missing in front of the posts much to they joy of his former teammates and the supporters in attendance. The next twenty minutes or so saw both teams share posession with no team able to gain anything significant from it. With five minutes of the half remaining a great backs move created by the two centres Trevor Girvan and Mark Curley, combined with an injection of pace from the returning fullback Geoffrey Dougan saw him shirk the challenges of at least five opposition players to run the ball in under the posts. Matthew Heaney added the conversion once more and left Armagh leading 14-0 at the interval.
Armagh began the second half exactly as they had started it with another fine score this time from Prop Eoin O'Hagan. Armagh had been awarded a penalty between the 22m and the 5m lines and there was some confusion as to the call. Captain David Loughran opted to put more points on the board, however his message was not conveyed properly towards the pack and thankfully so. A quick tap and go confused the Portadown side and allowed Eoin to run through and cross the line. It appears the Portadown lads were waiting on the kick at goal, not that too many of the Armagh lads were concerned with their excuses and the referee awarded the try. Matthey Heaney was unable to add the extras this time. Portadown clearly upset with the manner of the last scre conceeded tried with all they could muster to generate a score of their own and drag themselves back into the game. Armagh's defence stood strong once more with a series of impressive tackles and turnovers. The hosts saw themselves in a great position once more after a great solo run by no.8 David Bingham. Sadly David was brought down and had to leave the pitch injured and did not return to action.
Armagh had a scrum on the 5m line in fronto of the posts with options left and right. In the end Flyhalf Heaney opted to go himself and touched down to the right of the posts. He was unable to add to his tally further with the conversion as Armagh now lead 22-0 entering the final quarter of the encounter. The day went from bad to worse as their inferior fitnesslevels were bginning to take their toll. Armagh worked their way down the field and with a big gap in behind opted to kick the ball over their backline, rather unfortunatly for Portadown's full back McCreesh his attempted catch took a wicked bounce off his chest.
The refree opted to play the advantage and the encroaching Mark Curley used some delicate footballing skills to steer the ball around a few of his opponents and into the corner where he could touch it down. Heaney connected with the ball beautifully to send it between the uprights. Portadown now with their heads down tried to muster up a consolation score, but winger Jamie Monaghan had other ideas intercepting the ball and running almost the length of the field to touch down in the corner. Heaney was unable to add the conversion which was not decisive. Armagh ran out convincing 36-0 winners and claimed the first derby spoils of the year.
It emerged after the game that David Bingham had suffered ligament damage and will be out of action for the next few weeks. All at City of Armagh R.F.C wish David the very best of luck during his recovery. The lads face a tough trip to league leaders Ards next weekend.
Photo Credits: Jackie Donaldson