In lowering the colours of Laois, Paul Grimley’s side not only gained a rather more secure footing in Division Two but cemented back-to-back league victories.
For Grimley, the hope remains that from little acorns mighty oaks may grow. He said: “We are not in any great position of comfort. We may have five points but to my mind we are still fighting against relegation. Ulster champions Monaghan will represent a massive test for us next weekend.”
He may still be shorn of a raft of experience and striving to find a settled blend with the resources available to him, but the spirit, skill and towering work-rate that ultimately brought Laois to their knees offer considerable hope for the future. “The thing we have learned from last year is that once we put in a good performance it’s over and down with. In the recent past we might have been clapping ourselves on the back after a win like this for maybe too long but now the total emphasis is on the next game,” insisted Grimley.
The outcome might have been different had Laois availed of a litany of scoring chances after the break but wayward shooting was to prove their undoing. They remained in touch at half-time when John O’Loughlin’s 34th minute goal ensured Armagh enjoyed just a three-point advantage, 0-12 to 1-6, Tony Kernan (4) and Stefan Campbell (3) claiming the majority of the scores.
But it was a different story after the break. Armagh engaged a higher gear and when the outstanding Campbell stabbed home a 52nd minute goal it was the signal for a finishing flourish, highlighted by a second goal from Ethan Rafferty in the 67th minute and a flurry of points. Donie Kingston, Billy Sheehan and lively substitute Gary Walsh tried hard to turn the tide but Armagh’s stamina, towering work-rate and clinical finishing sealed the home win.
Grimley’s ‘must do better’ assessment has already struck a chord with his players, though.
“We were prone to be sloppy at times and the players were reminded of this at half-time. We have things to work on,” said Grimley.
For his opposite number Tomás ÓFlahártha, a potentially perilous climax to the competition could be on the horizon.
“We missed chances and allowed Armagh off the hook. We paid dearly for that in the end and we have to learn from it” he said.
Scorers for Armagh: S Campbell 1-4, T Kernan 0-6 (0-3 frees), E Rafferty 1-0, P Hughes, A Mallon, S Harold, C Rafferty, S Forker, J Clarke, E McVerry 0-1 each.
Scorers for Laois: D Kingston 0-5 (0-4 frees), J O’Loughlin 1-1, R Munnelly 0-2 (0-1 free), G Walsh 0-2, D Conway, J Finn 0-1 each.
ARMAGH: P McEvoy; P Hughes, A Mallon, M Murray; M Shields, E Rafferty, R Grugan; A Findon, S Harold; T Kernan, K Dyas, C Rafferty; J Clarke, S Campbell, S Forker.
Subs: R Grugan for O’Neill, B Mallon for Forker (both h-t), E McVerry for E Rafferty (69), K O’Rourke for Dyas (72).
LAOIS: G Brody; D Booth, M Timmons, P O’Leary; D Strong, P Begley, P McMahon; J O’Loughlin, K Meaney; J Finn, D Kingston, C Begley; R Munnelly, D Conway, B Sheehan.
Subs: G Walsh for Finn (h-t), E O’Carroll for Conway (62).
Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).