The County side returned from Portlaioise last weekend empty handed but despite lining out with several debutants they fought gamely particularly in the second half before falling short.
Sunday’s National League second round game against Wexford according to Brian Mallon, whose classic goal last Saturday sparked a mini-revival, is a must win encounter.
“The game against Wexford is followed by a two week break so it is important to receive a boost before we face more tough games,” said Brian who officially was selected at corner forward and would be seen as an ideal striking partner for Maghery’s Stefan Forker. He does not mind which attacking role he is given for Sunday’s tie against The Model County. Brian added, “It does not really matter which number you wear, you have to make yourself available all the time. Whether it’s tackling back or breaking out of defence you have to do whatever it takes.”
It took Armagh a long time to get going against Laois last weekend, Paul Grimley’s team had a purple patch at the start of the second half but found the home side too strong in the end. Brian believes that a lot of positives can be taken from the County’s league opener.
”I believe we showed great character and brought ourselves back into contention. A lot of the young lads did well and with more games and more experience they can get better,” explained Mallon. Armagh lowered the colours of Wexford back in 2005 in what was the Model County’s only league final appearance, but Orchard fans will remember with some destain the fateful day in August 2008 when Wexford dumped Armagh out of the All-Ireland series at the quarter-final stage, a defeat which appears to have been a milestone in the County’s most recent history.
Two Wexford men who stood out that day will lead the visitors attack on Sunday, namely PJ Banville and Redmond Barry who is one of the games most skilful player. Both strikers hit goals for their side last weekend against Longford when The Model came back from being seven points behind. Under their new manager Aidan O’Brian, Wexford will be in confidant mood visiting the Athletic Grounds and Brian Mallon stresses the need for Armagh to show consistency.
“Over the past number of seasons we haven’t been consistent,” claimed the Tir na Nog player. “A good performance is followed by an indifferent one so we need to hit the ground running on Sunday and play for the full 70 minutes.”
Armagh should be wary of this Wexford team, they have highly mobile players who are quick and well organised, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see their talented defender Brian Malone pick up Stefan Forker who might be seen as Armagh’s biggest scoring threat. But a hard fought one point victory would satisfy Mallon.
The Ulster council finance worker concluded, “Sunday’s game will be very difficult for us especially in front of our home crowd. If we can get a win it would make the difference between pushing for promotion and being involved in a relegation dog fight with Derry in Celtic Park.”