Armagh miss out on All Ireland qualifier place
GALWAY 1-11 ARMAGH 0-9
So it was nothing more than a mirage, then. The prospect of Armagh lining up against Cork in the fourth round of the All Ireland qualifiers next weekend had suddenly brought added sunshine to their rehabilitation mission only for Galway to envelope Paul Grimley's side in a cloud of gloom.
If Armagh scored for fun against Wicklow (2-21 to 0-2) and Leitrim (8-13 to 0-10), then their profligacy against the Tribesmen, themselves entering the contest blighted by uncertainty following scares against Tipperary and Waterford, bordered on the incredible.
Make no mistake about it this was a setback of seismic proportions for the Orchard county, 13 wides further tarnishing a feeble display.
The renaissance spawned by those runaway wins over Division Four opponents was not so much halted by Galway as rendered utterly meaningless.
"We made it hard for ourselves from the outset," admitted Grimley. "Galway got off to a good start, chiefly because they had the upper hand at midfield and we were never quite able to rein them in.
"At half-time we felt we still in the game – very much so. But we never really got our legs going up front, Galway were very astute and they were able to crowd out Jamie Clarke.
"It worked for them and fair play to them. We missed too many chances whereas Galway took the most of what came to them. Obviously this was a sobering experience and we will have to take lessons from it."
Lesson number one will surely focus on the necessity for midfield dominance.
But it was a 26th minute goal from Danny Cummins that was to prove one of the rocks on which Armagh perished. There was a suspicion that the lively corner forward was in the square when he inflicted this mortal wound but Grimley took it on the chin, accepting: "We weren't good enough on the day."
Galway: M Breathnach; D O'Neill, F Hanley, K Kelly; J Duane (0-1), G O'Donnell, G Sice (0-1); P Conroy (0-2), T Flynn; J O'Brien, S Armstrong (0-1), C Doherty; M Martin (0-2), M Meehan (0-4, all frees), D Cummins (1-0). Subs: S Walsh for O'Brien, M Farragher for Meehan, A Varley for Doherty.
Armagh: P McEvoy; P McKeown, B Donaghy, J Morgan; A Kernan (0-1, f), C McKeever (0-2), M Shields; J Lavery, S Harold; C Rafferty (0-1), K Dyas, E Rafferty; J Clarke, T Kernan (0-2, f), E McVerry. Subs: S Campbell (0-3) for Rafferty, K Toner for Harold, F Moriarty for McKeown, A Forker for McVerry, S Forker for E Rafferty.
Referee: Rory Hickey (Clare).