Armagh are Down and out

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Armagh are Down and out thumbnailMark Shields netted a first half goal but it wasn't enough to secure victory.

KIERAN McGeeney's search for an Ulster Championship win as Armagh manager is set to continue after the Orchard County fell to a surprise 2-7 to 0-15 defeat to Down at a packed Pairc Esler on Sunday afternoon.

McGeeney, who was serving a touchline ban for an altercation with a lineman during the National League could only watch on from the Main Stand in Newry as his side exited the Ulster Championship at the quarter-final stage.

Since taking control of the Orchard County, McGeeney has yet to taste a victory in the Ulster Championship and Armagh will now wait for the outcome of this morning's All-Ireland qualifier draw (Tuesday, June 6).

Stand-in manager John Toal said Armagh's poor start in both the first and second half came back to haunt them.

"In the first 10-15 minutes we let them run a four or five point lead before we really started, we were very slow coming out of the block.

"At the start of the second half we didn't take off again, they got the lead.

"They got the first couple of scores in the second half and it was a bit of lead to eat into. We were rushing it, panicking and trying to put the ball through a packed defence, which isn't going to work!

"We had plenty of opportunities, simple opportunities to put the ball over the bar and we didn't take them.

"We hit the post a number of times, but it was just one of those days."

Toal said that no one in the Armagh camp would be using the absence of McGeeney on the touchline and in the changing room as an excuse.

"We knew that before the game that he wasn't going to be involved, we talked about it all week and the players knew what the situation was going to be.

"Obviously it was a loss not having him there at half-time to give further directions, but it was something we were aware of and we just had to make do."

It was double delight for the hosts as they completed a Senior and Minor double.

There was an enthralling end to the Minor clash, which preluded the senior game as Down goalkeeper Jack Hazard made a stunning save from Tiernan Kelly's last minute penalty to prevent Armagh from levelling the scores.

In the end Down's ruthlessness in the final third saw them advance to the final four as they secured a 2-13 to 2-11 victory.


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