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Orchard not yet in full bloom, says McGeeney

Louth 0-11 Armagh 3-15

By John Campbell

Suddenly, Division Two football for Armagh next season could become a reality after all.

After huffing and puffing their way through the initial stages of the current competition, Kieran McGeeney's men have posted a scarcely credible 9-37 in their last two matches, welcomed several of their more seasoned players back to the fold and provided a gentle reminder that they might just be entitled to Championship aspirations.

The Orchard County, of course, defy convention to some extent. Deprived of the services of talented trio Stefan Campbell, Andrew Murnin and Mark Shields before the start and reduced to 14 players when Aidan Forker was banished after just 50 seconds, they proceeded to indulge in a scorefest that afterwards had manager McGeeney, wisely, repeating his post-match observation when Offaly had been lambs to the slaughter in the last round.

"I don't think Louth are a bad side and we are not world beaters by any means, rather a work in progress," he maintained.

His succinct analysis, though, does not quite mask the chasm that separated the sides.

Ahead by 1-3 to nil after 12 minutes with Ciaran McKeever's goal massaging confidence and comfortable at 2-6 to 0-6 by the interval after Niall Rowland had also found the net, Armagh engaged cruise control to heap agony on their hosts with Jamie Clarke torturer-in-chief, landing 1-3 in a stunning solo 10-minute scoring blitz.

Niall Grimley, Rory Grugan and the wily McKeever prospered in attack, Stephen Sheridan continued to thrive at midfield and Brendan Donaghy and Charlie Vernon were pillars in an increasingly frugal defence.

Next up for the Orchard men are Antrim and Tipperary. After that, who knows?

Armagh scorers: J Clarke 1-3 (1-0 pen), N Grimley 0-4 (2f), R Grugan 0-4 (1f), N Rowland 1-1, C McKeever 1-0, S Sheridan, G McParland, P Hughes 0-1 each.

Louth scorers: R Burns 0-4 (3f, 1'45'), P Smith 0-3, T Durnin 0-2, G McSorley, Conal McKeever 0-1 each.

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