herald

Saturday 22 September 2018

McGeeney: Give our players a break

GOAL: Joe McElroy. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
GOAL: Joe McElroy. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

There was nothing about the previous 69 minutes to suggest Armagh would deliver but they found some late inspiration to somehow turn this game on its head in a fast and furious finish.

As the game approached the 70th minute, Armagh trailed by three points. Three minutes earlier, Clare thought they had won it when David Tubridy followed up his own saved penalty and tapped home the rebound with three minutes of normal time remaining.

But when substitute Joe McElroy's goal levelled the scores heading into an allocated six minutes of stoppage time, Clare completely folded.

They lost the resulting kick-out after McElroy's goal and that was that. Armagh, who had kicked 18 wides over the course of a sweltering afternoon, blitzed them with another four unanswered points.

Clare hardly got another sniff as Armagh swarmed all over them, sensing their opponents' shock at what was now looking inevitable, and a flurry of points from Rory Grugan, subs Gavin McParland and Ross McQuillan, and then finally Aidan Forker, put the gloss on an incredible afternoon for Armagh.

They are now one game away from equalling last year's progression to the last eight of the All-Ireland SFC series.

The rewards will be even greater this time with the inaugural Super 8s in store, and it was all there on the line for both teams in the Athletic Grounds on Saturday for whoever wanted to reach out and grab it. Armagh were that team, and afterwards manager Kieran McGeeney had nothing but praise for them - though he was less complimentary about the pundits.

"The players never gave up. I have nothing but admiration for them. You could see the smiles on the faces of the young people afterwards and it's good because that's the way forward. In other sports they make heroes out of players but we spend our time on TV demonising our players and personalising things.

"To me, whether it's rugby or soccer, we talk about the great role models they are, yet you look at our players and all I hear on TV is personal attacks."

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