Friday 23 March 2018

Laois progress in replay neither boss wanted any part of

Laois 1-11 Armagh 1-10

Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 1A Refixture at O'Moore Park. Photo: Sportsfile
Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 1A Refixture at O'Moore Park. Photo: Sportsfile
Conor Meredith shoots to score Laois' first goal against Armagh. Photo: Sportsfile

Daragh Ó Conchúir

In the end, like most recounts in an election, there was no change to the original result.

We had plenty of excitement along the way to the retention of the status quo, though it came belatedly.

The reasons for this were probably psychological and weren't unrelated to the fact that neither manager felt they should be facing one another again.

Armagh started like that certainly and Conor Meredith's goal just before the break gave Laois a 1-5 to 0-1 interval lead.

The visitors had kicked nine wides but they were laboured, kicking aimless passes in Pearce Casey's general direction and carrying the ball as lone wolves.

With a change of tack after the resumption, they became more dynamic. The ball carrier had at least two options and, what's more, the off-the-shoulder runners were travelling with pace and conviction.

Rory Grugan switched to full-forward and Colm Watters was introduced. Between them, they scored a goal and four points - Grugan grabbing the goal - and Armagh were two clear.

Laois brought on Ross Munnelly though and the only survivor from their last Leinster Championship success 13 years ago calmed the hosts to edge it through.

Read More: Laois get numbers right to repel Armagh's second-half rally

Victorious manager, Mick Lillis was pleased to get through but cited the enforcement of a replay as another example of GAA authorities applying rules differently depending on the counties involved.

"I don't think this game should ever have been replayed" said Lillis. "I don't think common sense prevailed. But that was totally out of our control.

"The powers that be can do all sorts of things in terms of shifting matches when Dublin play but can't shift matches when the likes of Laois play but that's outside of our control and we can only control what we can control.

"The bottom line is, from a hierarchical point of view, the likes of Laois don't matter. It wouldn't be done to Dublin, it wouldn't be done to Kerry, it wouldn't be done to Donegal but it will be done to the likes of Laois and Carlow - the people who are at where we're at in the game. I think the authorities need to have a look at the fairness of the whole system."

Armagh boss, Kieran McGeeney was proud of the efforts of his young and injury-ravaged panel and while he would have taken the win at the second opportunity had it come, wasn't in favour of a replay authorities insisted upon due to a technicality.

"I'm a firm believer that games are won on grass, not on tables or on sheets of paper" said McGeeney. When asked whether we wanted to object or not...we had no sort of say in that, we just put our heads down.

"I would hate to see anybody lose a game that they have won on the pitch. That would be my feeling. We fulfilled the fixture. If you had won, you'd have taken it with both hands. Twice it was taken off me as a player (in similar circumstances) but look, it probably papered over a lot of cracks.

"What happened the last time wasn't very professional (by the match officials) from beginning to end. We're here to play football and administrators are here to administrate and referee and stuff like that."

The irony was that the void game counted for John O'Loughlin's suspension and the midfielder played a big role in the victory for Laois.

Yet the overall sense was that everyone involved was just glad it was over.


SCORERS - ­ Laois - C Meredith 1-0; D Conway, R Munnelly (1f), J O'Loughlin 0-2 each; P Cahillane (f), N Donoher, D Strong, D Kingston (f), G Walsh (f) 0-1 each

Armagh - R Grugan 1-2; S Campbell 0-4(3fs); C Watters 0-2; M McKenna, B Donaghy 0-1 each

LAOIS - G Brody 6, S Attride 7, M Timmons 6, G Hanrahan 7, D Strong 6, K Lillis 7, D O'Connor 4, B Quigley 6, J O'Loughlin 7, C Begley 6, P Cahillane 5, N Donoher 5, C Meredith 7, D Kingston 6, D Conway 8 Subs: A Farrell 6 for D O'Connor BC (21), K Meaney 6 for N Donoher (47), R Munnelly 7 for D Conway (54), G Dillon 6 for D Strong (57), G Walsh 6 for P Cahillane (64) M Campion 6 for B Quigley (70+3)

ARMAGH - P Morrison 8, S Heffron 6, B Donaghy 6, J McElroy 6, A Mallon 7, C Vernon 7, S Connell 6, A Findon 5, S Sheridan 4, T Kernan 6, R Grugan 8, A Forker 6, M McKenna 7, S Campbell 6, P Casey 5 Subs: N Grimley 6 for S Sheridan inj (6), E McVerry 6 for P Casey (27), C Watters 8 for S Connell (h-t), M Shields 6 for M McKenna (63)

REF - P O'Sullivan (Kerry)

Irish Independent

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