O'Connor fumes at Kingdom attitude
Published 13/02/2012 | 05:00
KERRY were brought crashing back down when Armagh raided fortress Austin Stack Park in one of the surprise results of the weekend.
The Orchard men led from the fifth minute when Aidan Forker landed a point and never relinquished that advantage to finish a fine week that has seen Paddy O'Rourke's side take three points from a possible four after showdowns with Cork and Kerry.
The Kingdom had exacted some measure of revenge on Dublin for their All-Ireland final defeat the previous weekend but looked listless for large parts of Saturday's clash, with Jack O'Connor conceding afterwards that the visitors were the better side.
"There is no other way of putting it; it was disappointing as we did not appear as up for the game as Armagh. That was the big danger after the Dublin game that there would be a come-down.
"We spoke about it during the week that it would be a big game for Armagh, especially the way they came back in the second half against Cork, so we needed to treat this game as a big game as well and maybe we didn't, especially in the first half," he said.
O'Connor and the home supporters could not believe what was unfolding in the opening 20 minutes as Armagh were the dominant force, picking up breaking ball at midfield and forcing Kerry players to turn the ball over.
Armagh were 1-3 to 0-0 in front at the end of this opening spell, with Brian Mallon finding the net in the 10th minute after a lovely move involving Anto Duffy and Caolan Rafferty.
Kerry managed some response and Armagh were not to score again for 20 minutes, but the hosts could not get going up front and it was the 18th minute before James O'Donoghue opened their account.
Two Bryan Sheehan points followed for the remainder of the half -- Armagh defenders Andy Mallon, Declan McKenna and Ciaran McKeever were in top form, while full-back Brendan Donaghy had the better of matters with his Kerry namesake, Kieran.
"We learned that our attitude has to be spot on from beginning to end and there is no point in trying to turn it on halfway through a game and expect to win it," said a crestfallen O'Connor.
The introduction of Declan O'Sullivan just before half-time appeared to breathe new life into Kerry, although he was harshly booked after his first touch by Maurice Condon, who was roundly booed by the home fans at half-time and full-time.
Kerry needed to crank it up a gear after trailing 1-4 to 0-3 at the interval, but they were rocked back when a misunderstanding between Marc O Se and 'keeper Brendan Kealy resulted in a collision and John Kingham found the net to stretch the lead to seven points.
It was the goal that gave Armagh the cushion they needed to withstand a 20-minute onslaught by the Kingdom that yielded only four points, three from Sheehan frees -- the midfielder was once again impressive -- and one superb O'Sullivan point.
Kerry were unlucky not to get the goal they needed as Darran O'Sullivan had the ball in the net only to see it disallowed for a throw ball, while Brendan Donaghy cleared the ball off the line minutes later.
Armagh rallied and kicked three unanswered points to go six clear again.
Kerry tried hard but Armagh were superb at the back and the red carding of Tomas O Se late on spelled the end of Kerry's hopes.
And even the late dismissal of Finian Moriarty couldn't prevent the Orchard from taking the points.
And Armagh boss O'Rourke insisted he knew his side could win in Kerry even without the Crossmaglen contingent and Stevie McDonnell.
"We knew we could win the game. They (Armagh) are good footballers and sometimes they haven't belief but they are starting to believe in themselves. They are organised and they are playing well for each other and when they do that they are going to be difficult for lots of teams to play against," he said.
Man of the Match -- B Donaghy (Armagh)
Scorers --Armagh: A Forker 0-4 (0-2f), B Mallon, J Kingham 1-0 each, M Machin 0-2, A Duffy, C Watters 0-1 each. Kerry: B Sheehan 0-6 (0-5f), J O'Donoghue 0-2 (1f), S O'Sullivan, Declan O'Sullivan 0-1 each.
Armagh -- P McEvoy; A Mallon 8, B Donaghy 8, D McKenna 8; K Dyas 7, C McKeever 8, F Moriarty 7; C Vernon 7, M Machin 8; A Forker 8, B Mallon 7, A Duffy 6; C Rafferty 6, J Kingham 7, E McVerry 8. Subs: B J Padden 7 for C Rafferty (44), C Watters 7 for B Mallon (54), J Lavery 6 for K Dyas (65), G McPartland 6 for A Forker (68), D Lavery for A Duffy (70).
Kerry -- B Kealy 6; S Enright 6, M O Se 7, B McGuire 8; T O Se 8, K Young 7, A O'Mahony 6; A Maher 7, B Sheehan 8; P Galvin 7, Darran O'Sullivan 7, S O'Sullivan 6; J O'Donoghue 7, K Donaghy 6 , B J Keane 6. Subs: Declan O'Sullivan 7 for S O'Sullivan (35), D Bohan 6 for S Enright (45), P Crowley 6 for A O'Mahony (58), P Curtin 6 for B J Keane (60), S Scanlon 6 for A Maher (68).
REF -- M Condon (Waterford).