Armagh made the trip to Belfast on Saturday to play previously unbeaten Woodvale.
They knew it would be a difficult task but knew that with a strong performance they could get a result.
Armagh captain Matthew Steenson won the toss and elected to bat first on a batsman friendly wicket.
Neil Gelston and Colin Russell opened and were playing fluently until the fall of Gelston when he edged behind to the wicket keeper.
Harry Doyle then came and went for 9 as he clearly edged behind, bringing captain Steenson to the crease and he looked to go from the start as he smashed a beautiful on drive to the boundary.
Steenson and Russell looked to push but the latter edged behind and the keeper deflected the ball to 1st slip who took a great catch. This brought new man Jared Barnes to the crease and with his first ball crashed a delightful cover-drive to the boundary, Steenson and Barnes kept going and punished the bad ball.
Then a mix up between the two batsmen saw Steenson run out for a well made 30.
This brought young Andy Hoey to the crease and immediately the talented youngster began to score quickly as he smashed boundary after boundary.
Unfortunately a brief shower that had been forecast hit but with only the loss of 25 minutes play resumed but shortly after the rain break another mix-up between the batsmen caused Hoey to be run out.
This was disappointing for Armagh as Andy Hoey had a good score of 42 and looked in imperious form. This fall of wicket brought the older Hoey, Michael out to bat and he supported Barnes as he pushed on past his 50.
Barnes was making batting look very easy and smashed four consecutive boundaries off Hill as Armagh moved beyond 200.
Wickets began to fall cheaply in the closing overs, including that of Barnes who skied one to extra cover who took a good catch, Barnes had made a quite brilliant 87 and at the close of innings Armagh finished on a competitive 237-9.
Armagh knew that this was a good total but knew they would have to bowl and field well in order to defend their score.
Ben Mackey and Neil Gelston opened the bowling for Armagh. with the former striking for the first wicket in his second over as the batsman left a ball he believed to be whizzing past off stump only to find the ball smashing into the top of off.
With Gelston and Mackey bowling extremely well the rain came, with both teams off for 45 minutes meant the DLS came into play, it adjudged that Woodvale required a tricky 207 runs off 38 overs to win.
As play resumed the same Armagh pair both began were they left off with Gelston picking up the wicket off the other opener Connolly as he tried to come down the crease and attack the spinner only to find he had missed the ball and was smartly stumped by Gareth Mccarter.
By the end of both their spells they had restricted Woodvale to a mere 38 off 16 overs, which looked like armagh were in the driving seat, a fantastic effort from both bowlers who bowled with great skill and control.
Alan Whitcroft came onto bowl he took a wicket with his very first ball with an outstanding catch from Steenson at cover.
Sadly due to some loose bowling and fielding from the Armagh side the Woodvale batsmen Irwin and Robinson began to build a partnership with the latter in particular in formidable form.
Andrew Bratten was introduced to the attack and managed to pick up the wicket of Robinson thanks to a smart catch at cover by Barnes while Fleming departed quickly thanks to a superb run-out from Russell.
However, with the target broken in just a handful of superb overs of hard hitting, Woodvale finished the match off with 9 balls left with yet another maximum hit to the short boundary and Armagh were defeated by five wickets.
Armagh captain Matthew Steenson had mixed emotions after the game.
“We did so many good things today and put a strong score on the board,” he said.
“Jarred Barnes and Andy Hoey batted so well and our early bowling from Ben Mackey and Neil Gelston was superb. We need to learn from the period where we lost our way after the drinks break.
“Woodvale are probably the best team in the division and we pushed them all the way and could well have won the game.”
Next weekend Armagh host Bangor on the Mall Saturday at 1pm.
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