ARMAGH entered Saturday’s Inter-Zone Championships final ranked as underdogs against an exciting Oriel squad.
However, the Orchard County men returned from Loughbrickland with the Boomer Cup as part of the travelling party thanks to a performance of great spirit and skill.
The 50-46 scoreline confirmed the high drama on show in front of a vocal crowd.
“It was an unbelievable atmosphere, with both sets of fans really playing a part in creating a memorable occasion,” said George Crothers, the Armagh Zone chairman. “We were considered the underdogs but these players have been through some tough fixtures together this season and displayed a real sense of unity.
“However, you always need individual brilliance to make the difference and so many stepped up to the mark.
“It looked a bit dodgy around the midway point of the first half, with Oriel clear by about 15 shots before we managed to close to five or so.
“The feeling over the second half was to just go for it and that attacking drive went in our favour.
“They had more proven winners than us on the day but the team spirit helped us overcome that situation and the feeling of satisfaction at the end was amazing.”
The high standard of play on show treated fans to one of the most exciting finals in recent memory.
Alan Roberts, Pat Garvey, George Crothers and Gary Culbert battled across mat one.
It was 8-3 to Oriel by six ends before the addition of three apiece placed Armagh down by 11-6.
Derek Wright, Paul Moffett, Steven McCall and David Beattie were 11-1 behind by six ends, with a single securing Oriel the overall honours on a 12-9 tally as Armagh added vital scores.
Joe Beattie, Chris Trainor, Raymond Hunter and Laurence McCarten enjoyed a tense tussle before the Orchard County men moved up by four on the way to 8-5.
Aidan Corrigan, William Gilpin, Sean Breen and Kieran Trainor were level on five apiece at seven ends before Oriel registered a two.
Armagh hit back with a single and two to edge clear by a slender margin.
Mark Sproule, Paul Whittle, Nigel Uprichard and Andrew Hughes proved commanding from the start.
Uprichard, playing at second, delivered decisive bowls across the mat, with Armagh up by 7-3 on six ends.
Scores of three singles and a two put Armagh home on a 12-3 scoreline.
Andrew Leckey, Chris Trainor, Colin Deering and Jal Richardson were involved in a tough meeting, with four apiece then 7-7 as play progressed up to the nine ends.
Oriel produced a late shot on the final end for victory by 8-7.
Armagh - now five-time winners of the Boomer Cup - will compete later in the year across the Top Team competition.
RESULTS from the latest Jethro Rinks’ League meeting are as follows:
MORNING SECTION: W.Cousins 9 (1) M.Milligan 14 (3), A.Magee 17 (3) A.Kirk 9 (0), M.Hamilton 7 (0) G.Richardson 17 (3), C.Whitty 15 (1) W.Clinghan 17 (3), W.Cairns 12 (3) E.Smyth 11 (1), R.Neely 25 (3) C.Maguire 7 (0).
AFTERNOON SECTION: N.Orr 14 (1) W.Martin 15 (3), J.Mackle 6 (0) S.White 16 (3), L.Maginnis 10.5 (1) G.Bell 13 (3), N.Conlon 3 (1) S.Garvey 17 (3), S.Malcolmson 16 (3) N.Garvey 8 (0), B.Boness 24 (3) P.Sexton 9 (0).