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City of Armagh RFC 26 vs 29 Lansdowne RFC

City of Armagh 1XV Image

In perfect sunny conditions, City of Armagh played their first ever home match in Division 1A of the All Ireland League, against Dublin visitors, Lansdowne. Paul Mullen returned at prop and Cameron Doak made his Armagh AIL debut. Captain Josh McKinley was also back from injury although Glen Faloon was a late withdrawal, replaced by Dylan Nelson and David Agnew joined the bench. Lansdowne kicked off and immediately put the home team on the back foot. 

This pressure resulted in a penalty in the third minute which was converted for a 0-3 lead. Armagh eventually got some possession and Cunningham and Nelson linked well to get Armagh into the opposition half where they won a penalty. The 40 metre attempt from Brayden Laing was just short. A second penalty was kicked into the corner and it was Armagh who started to put pressure on the Dublin side. On 17 minutes, the game’s opening try was scored by Cameron Doak, following a series of pick and drives on the Lansdowne tryline. Laing’s conversion came back off the post but Armagh were ahead 5-3. An error from the restart gave Lansdowne a good attacking position and Armagh conceded a couple of penalties. A tap and go by the visitors saw Jack Cooke cross under the posts for a converted try and a 5-10 lead. 

The home side then put some good attacking phases together but Lansdowne’s defence was in top form. A penalty to Armagh was kicked to touch and from the resulting lineout drive, hooker Jonny Morton touched down for Armagh’s second try. A fine conversion from Laing put City of Armagh back inro the lead, 12-10, with 35 minutes played. Armagh were soon back attacking in the Lansdowne 22 and forced a goal line dropout. The kick went straight into touch and Armagh had an attacking lineout 5 metres out. It was substitute Neil Faloon who made an immediate impact and the number 8 powered over for City of Armagh’s third try. Laing converted and Armagh had an impressive 19-10 lead at the halftime break. The second half began with more of the same from Armagh. An attacking lineout maul was heading for the tryline but the ball was spilled at the last minute. 

On 47 minutes, the Lansdowne winger made a 40 metre line break, taking play up to the Armagh 22. The ball was spread wide and the Dublin side scored in the corner. The conversion was unsuccessful, but Lansdowne were back in the game at 19-15. Armagh raised their game again and were camped on the Lansdowne tryline with a series of drives from the Armagh pack. Alex Johnston then released the ball out the backs and centre Timmy McNeice burst through to score Armagh’s bonus point try. Laing’s conversion made the scoreline 26-15 to Armagh on 52 minutes. Lansdowne looked to respond and a couple of penalties gave them an attacking opportunity in the Armagh 22. From a lineout 5 metres, a well-rehearsed move at the front saw the Dublin side score their third try of the match. A superb touchline conversion reduced arrears to 26-22 with 20 minutes remaining. 

On 68 minutes Armagh won a penalty on the Lansdowne 22, almost in front of the posts. The decision was taken to kick to touch and the lineout was lost, letting Lansdowne off the hook. With 6 minutes remaining, one of the Lansdowne centres burst through a ruck inside his own half and made 50 metres before good support saw the Dublin side score out wide. A touchline conversion put Lansdowne ahead 26-29, stunning the home supporters. With 5 minutes remaining, the Armagh pack showed great determination in making their way back into Lansdowne territory. The visitor's defence, however held firm and the final whistle went with a heart breaking defeat for Armagh 26-29. 

This was a tremendous performance by Armagh against one of the strongest teams in the league. Crucial errors were to cost the team dearly and poor game management in the final quarter resulted in two league points instead of a deserved five. Head coach Chris Parker, commented after the match, “Obviously disappointed not to come away with five points, but the players put in an excellent performance. We have shown over the first two matches we are capable of competing in this league, but we have also learnt the importance of being clinical when you get opportunities in the opposition 22. As a group we continue to grow and learn from week to week. 

This Saturday, we play the league leaders and we look forward to another challenge down in Limerick. Saturday’s match against Shannon in Limerick kicks off at 1.00pm due to the Munster match later that evening at Thomond Park. The team look forward to the excellent travelling support that made it to Cork.

Photo Credits: Cathal McOscar from Inpho Photography

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