Johnston stars as Cavan crush Armagh
Cavan 3-18 Armagh 0-10
Published 07/03/2016 | 02:30
Kieran McGeeney accepted full responsibility for a humiliating defeat for Armagh which left him questioning himself, not his players.
It was the hopelessly one-sided nature of Saturday night's loss to Cavan in Kingspan Breffni Park which he found hardest to take.
"I believe I've good footballers in there," said the Armagh boss. "I just mustn't be doing the right thing with them for them to perform like that."
Seanie Johnston and Gearoid McKiernan each bagged 1-5 for Cavan, David Givney with the third goal.
Johnston hit 1-4 in the first half when the game remotely resembled a contest, continuing his positive comeback after four years away.
His star quality was a reminder of what Armagh have lost - Jamie Clarke and Caolan Rafferty are overseas while Kevin Dyas and Ciaran McKeever are long-term injuries.
Yet McGeeney refused to wrap himself in a comfort blanket.
"I'm not a big one for excuses," said the 2002 All-Ireland winning captain. "I have quality there, so I have to go back and see what I'm doing because I think it must be something I'm doing.
"I'd like to think of myself as a competitive person and we weren't even competitive there. "We've been competitive since the start of the year with players missing, but we fell assunder there and it's me that has to look at that - not them."
Armagh opened up with three points but a scruffy sixth minute goal from Johnston turned the game. Cavan scored the next eight points with Michael Argue, Jason McLoughlin, McKiernan and Johnston on target. Armagh failed to score for 25 minutes, and Cavan led 1-11 to 0-5 at the break.
Ethan Rafferty briefly gave the visitors hope with 0-2 before being harshly black carded, and their challenge faded badly with Givney's 52nd minute goal, which was followed seven minutes later by a great McKiernan strike.
Cavan cut through Armagh's defence at will and unchallenged, their manager Terry Hyland surprised at how easy it was in the end: "The important thing was after half-time we didn't sit back on the lead, we kept going".
Armagh will surely be more competitive when they face Cavan in the Ulster SFC on May 29, McGeeney adding: "I'd like to think so, but I thought I was going to be competitive tonight".
Scorers - Cavan: S Johnston 1-5 (2f), G McKiernan 1-5 (3f), D Givney 1-1, M Argue 0-2, J McLoughlin 0-2, P Faulkner 0-1, D McVeety 0-1, M Reilly 0-1. Armagh: S Campbell 0-3 (3f), E Rafferty 0-2 (1f), G McParland 0-2 (1f), M McKenna 0-1, C O'Hanlon 0-1, S Sheridan 0-1
Cavan: R Galligan 8; P Faulkner 8, K Clarke 8, J McLoughlin 8; C Brady 8, C Moynagh 8, K Brady 8; T Corr 8, L Buchanan 8; D McVeety 7, G McKiernan 9, M Reilly 8; D Givney 8, M Argue 8, S Johnston 9. Subs: N Murray 8 for McVeety (BC, 13), R Dunne 7 for Buchanan (48), P O'Connor 7 for Johnston (53), C Mackey 7 for Dunne (BC, 55), J Hayes 7 for McLoughlin (62), B Sankey 7 for Faulkner (65)
Armagh: M McNeice 6; A Mallon 6, C Vernon 6, S Connell 6; M Shields 6, S Heffron 7, S Sheridan 6; A Findon 6, S Campbell 8; N Grimley 6, A Forker 6, T Kernan 6; C Watters 6, C O'Hanlon 6, M McKenna 6. Subs: E Rafferty 7 for Watters (25), A Murnin 6 for Grimley (HT), J McElroy 6 for Rafferty (BC, 46), N McConville 6 for Forker (49), G McParland 6 for Kernan (58), J Hall 6 for O'Hanlon (63)
Ref - M Deegan (Laois)