Thursday 23 November 2017

O'Rourke glad to be over first hurdle despite absence of 'a bit more style'

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

When you can come away from Celtic Park bemoaning the fact that your team hasn't won with a bit more style, you know it has been a satisfying day.

These were Armagh manager Paddy O'Rourke's sentiments in the immediate aftermath of this preliminary-round game, an edgy affair that didn't exactly catapult the 2010 championship into orbit.

"Maybe we would have liked to win it with a bit more style, but it was a first-round game and it was always going to be a bit more tense and players were going to be a bit nervous," conceded O'Rourke.

So, can they play with the extra style that he craved? "I have absolutely no doubt they can. There is a hell of a lot of football in them and they can definitely play with more style, but we will have to improve in three weeks' time if we are going to win that game."

In the opposite corner, Damian Cassidy had issues with the refereeing, but was equally conscious of not making it the biggest issue of his day.

"The facts are we haven't done well and that is what you are measured against and that's the sword you fall on," said Cassidy.

"You stand up and take that, and that is exactly where we are at. We lost the first game in the championship and there is no credit in that for our team or for myself.


"The refereeing? I'm not happy with the standard of refereeing. We got relegated earlier in the year and there were critical decisions in those games, but everybody is in the same boat."

O'Rourke wasn't overly enamoured with the officials either and was concerned that the free count would offer a different portrayal to what the game was.

"I would say that it was not a great spectacle, but I don't believe that it was a dirty game. No way was it a dirty game. Both teams went out to play football and a lot of the tackling was fair. We didn't need as many frees, but we don't make the rules. We try not to foul."

Cassidy's analysis focused on a lacklustre second half from his side. " We just didn't really perform. Two points in the second half is a very poor reflection of the preparation we put in to the game."

For Steven McDonnell, the Monaghan quarter-final offers a chance for atonement after defeat and a red card in the qualifiers nearly finished him last year.

"As a team we certainly won't lack motivation for that. I felt we didn't play the same type of football today as we played in the concluding stages of the league, but when we did get the opportunities we were the team willing to attack."

Armagh have chosen Casement Park for their quarter-final, spurning the opportunity to go to Clones where Monaghan prevailed last year.

Irish Independent

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