Grimley happy as Armagh find form
Armagh 0-21 Galway 1-12
They may have diced with danger for the greater part of their journey through Division Two of the Allianz Football League but when push came to shove yesterday Armagh suddenly stood up to be counted.
And that's why manager Paul Grimley can now not only contemplate another season in this sector, but can also take considerable encouragement for an Ulster Championship campaign that will commence with a potential banana skin assignment against Cavan next month.
In summoning hitherto latent reserves of courage and character in disposing of the Tribesmen in a frenetic finish at the Athletic Grounds, Armagh flashed out a warning that their rehabilitation spell may be of rather more limited duration before they acquire rude health.
Certainly, relieved manager Grimley, who had found himself on the relegation precipice, was beating the drum yesterday although without quite making a deafening crescendo.
"I thought the team had a performance like this in them and they certainly came good on this occasion," he said.
"We played some great football and now that we are staying in Division Two we have the incentive to go and show our true worth in the Ulster Championship.
"That will be the real test for us but we are in a better frame of mind for it now," beamed the Orchard County boss.
Certainly with global traveller Jamie Clarke and the currently suspended Ciaran McKeever to come back into their side, Armagh suddenly have a spring in their step for the first time under Grimley's baton but the manager acknowledges that there is "still a long way to go."
"This Armagh side is a work in progress and we are very much on a learning curve," said the Armagh boss.
Armagh's first-half dominance owed much to the authority of the imposing James Lavery and Stephen Harold at midfield and to the defensive skills of Aaron Kernan and the creative flair and exquisite finishing of man of the match Kevin Dyas.
The Orchard County swept into an 0-8 to 0-2 lead before Galway were roused from their slumber via a Conor Doherty goal in the 28th minute that helped sustain a revival that carried over into the third quarter when the visitors acquired parity of esteem at 1-7 to 0-10.
But Armagh engaged overdrive again and, with Harold a rich source of possession as well as providing three invaluable points and Kieran Toner anchoring the defence, they visibly grew in confidence.
The impressive substitute Danny Cummins and the hard-working Gary Bradshaw did managed to pilfer points to keep Galway in touch.
However, Alan Mulholland's side found themselves left marooned in the closing stages when Rafferty, Clarke, Forker and Mallon whipped over points that cemented the most significant victory of manager Grimley's reign to date.
Armagh: P McEvoy; P McKeown , B Donaghy, M Shields; A Kernan (0-6, 0-3f) Moriarty; J Lavery, S Harold (0-3) C Rafferty (0-1), C Vernon, K Dyas (0-5); G McParland, T Kernan (0-1), S Forker (0-3, 0-2f). Subs: D McKenna for Shields (14 mins), S Clarke (0-1) for McParland (41), J Donnelly for Donaghy (61), B Mallon (0-1)for T Kernan (61), J Kingham for Harold (69).
Galway: M Breathnach; J Duane, F Hanley, C Forde; G Bradshaw (0-1) , K Kelly, G Sice, G O'Donnell, A Griffin; E Concannon, P Conroy (0-1), C Doherty (1-0) S Armstrong (0-5, 0-2f), M Meehan 0-3 (2f), M Hehir. Subs: D Cummins (0-2) for Hehir (h/t), G Higgins for O'Donnell (40 mins), G Sweeney for Sice (45), M Martin for Concannon (53), S Denvir for Bradshaw (64).
Referee: Martin Higgins (Fermanagh).