Sunday 22 July 2018

Armagh conquest fails to dampen McGeeney's concern over free tally

Armagh 1-16 Fermanagh 0-17

Andrew Murnin of Armagh tries to escape the clutches of Daniel Teague. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Andrew Murnin of Armagh tries to escape the clutches of Daniel Teague. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Paul Keane

Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney says he may have to alter his team's style to win more frees from referees.

Niall Grimley kicked three points from frees in Saturday's Croke Park final win over Fermanagh, helping to cap promotion with the title outright.

Seamus Quigley converted nine for Fermanagh and McGeeney suggested that Armagh generally haven't been receiving enough decisions from referees.

The Orchard's All-Ireland winning captain claimed that his team didn't receive any frees at all in their Round 7 loss to Wexford. One Wexford newspaper report claimed Armagh were awarded 12 of the 37 frees, though McGeeney may have been referring to frees in scoring positions.

The first of their four second-half frees against Wexford didn't arrive until the 62nd minute - much to McGeeney's annoyance.

Bonus

Ryan McShane in action during the Division 3 final between Armagh and Fermanagh. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Ryan McShane in action during the Division 3 final between Armagh and Fermanagh. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

"The free-kick count (against us) is high no matter what we seem to try and do," said McGeeney. "Last week we didn't get any frees in Wexford, in 80 minutes. None. So today was probably a bonus.

"People would probably point out that's our coaching, or that's our style of play. Fair enough. There's probably going to be something in that. We're going to have to look at how we can tidy up, but I don't know if it can all be down to that."

Grimley had a fine game, scoring 0-4, though Andrew Murnin was their key performer, hitting 1-3 from full-forward and punishing their Ulster rivals with his 54th-minute goal.

Armagh were clinging on a little at full-time, though, having coughed up a five-point advantage after that goal to lead by just two as Fermanagh rallied.

Armagh's Ben Crealey dodges a tackle from Tom Clarke. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Armagh's Ben Crealey dodges a tackle from Tom Clarke. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

The teams will meet again on May 19 in the Ulster SFC at Fermanagh's Brewster Park, having drawn 0-7 apiece in Round 6 of league.

McGeeney has predicted that the game in Enniskillen will be another arm wrestle, as opposed to a free-flowing encounter like Saturday's when 34 scores were registered.

"Space has a lot to do with it, and the type of football you're trying to play," said McGeeney.

"So that suited our game. The next day the (lack of) space will suit their game. How we deal with that, and how individuals deal with that, will probably be the winning or losing of it."

Fermanagh's Barry Mulrone tries to pull the trigger before a tackle from Ryan McShane. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Fermanagh's Barry Mulrone tries to pull the trigger before a tackle from Ryan McShane. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

McGeeney welcomed Ethan Rafferty and Kevin Dyas back to competitive action and handed Conor Macken his first start.

"Paddy Burns stepped up too," he said. "It's definitely been a see-saw year, losing a few players to travelling and then the injuries, but the fellas who have come in have done really well. We're hoping that will continue, but the white heat of championship in Ulster is a different proposition."

Fermanagh boss Rory Gallagher admitted that Brewster Park next month might suit his team more, as McGeeney suggested.

"You go to Croke Park and people are reading a lot into the 0-7 each game," said Gallagher.

"Yes, it was defensive but it was very hard to get the ball into the inside forward players. Armagh played some great ball into their inside forwards this time. It was a totally different dynamic. Croke Park opens the thing up.

Armagh selector Jim McCorry celebrates with Ben Crealey at the end of the game. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Armagh selector Jim McCorry celebrates with Ben Crealey at the end of the game. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

"Look, both teams know each other, we've watched them a number of times this year, they've watched us. From our point of view, it's set up as a great game to have in Brewster Park."

Scorers - Armagh: A Murnin 1-3, N Grimley 0-4 (3f), A Forker, P Burns, R McShane 0-2 each, G McCabe, B Crealey, N Rowland 0-1 each

Fermanagh: Seamus Quigley 0-9 (9f), C Jones 0-3, R Jones 0-2, D McCusker, T Corrigan, B Mulrone 0-1 each

Armagh - B Hughes 8; B Donaghy 7, A McKay 7, C Macken 7; P Burns 8, N Rowland 7, G McCabe 7; S Sheridan 7, C Vernon 6; B Crealey 7, A Forker 7, N Grimley 8; R Grugan 6, A Murnin 9, E Rafferty 6 Subs: R McShane 8 for Vernon (32), G McParland 6 for Rafferty (47), K Dyas 6 for Rowland (60), O MacIomhair for Grugan (70), R Owens for Macken (72)

Fermanagh - P Cadden 6; C Cullen 7, M Jones 6, E McHugh 6; B Mulrone 7, J McMahon 7, A Breen 7; T Clarke 6, E Donnelly 7; C McGee 6, D McCusker 7, R Jones 8; Sean Quigley 5, C Jones 8, Seamus Quigley 8 Subs: C Corrigan 6 for Sean Quigley (5, black card), K Connor 6 for McHugh (h/t), D Teague 6 for Clarke (44), T Corrigan 7 for Breen (51), E Maguire 6 for McMahon (63)

Ref - J Molloy (Galway)

Irish Independent

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