OISIN MCCONVILLE: Dismal Armagh threw in the towel

Bad. Bad for Armagh supporters as I know it was bad for the neutrals I spoke to who were in Croke Park on Saturday, writes Oisín McConville.

Armagh travelled up in numbers believing the worst case scenario was a defeat while putting it up to Tyrone in the physical stakes.

As it turned out, this was even more of a nightmare.

It was obvious from early on that Armagh weren’t going to be at the races and driving away on Saturday evening Kieran McGeeney and his group will be kicking themselves that they didn’t even have a cut off Tyrone.

I didn’t expect Armagh to win but I expected them to fight - sadly they didn’t even manage that.

People always look at kick-outs now as indicators of how a team is going and we sort of half-pushed up and were caught in no man’s land as a result.

Tyrone always had a player free, meaning they always had an outlet. On the occasions they were able to break quickly, they overran us and they were a couple of occasions when they kicked over the top.

Seán Cavanagh broke down one of them to Peter Harte who would have scored a goal but for a fumble although Tyrone still managed a point from the move. That Tyrone were able to do that illustrated how switched off Armagh were.

If you had offered an Armagh supporter an All-Ireland quarter-final at the start of the year, they would have snapped your hand off but this performance leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

Not that Armagh would want to do Tyrone many favours but Mickey Harte will have learned nothing from this. There are still more questions than answers about them.

David Mulgrew came on and looked so composed for a young player and that was a highlight, but I don’t think Tyrone were as good as they showed in patches or as bad as they were at times.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle and while they had way too much for Armagh they’ll be coming up against a Dublin team in three weeks who will be incessant in carrying the fight to them.

Before the game, I had written about the idea of Armagh mirroring Tyrone but to deploy that tactic would have taken more than a week to perfect.

Tyrone have been at this now for the best part of two years since that league game against Mayo.

It works for them and they feel it’s the right way to play. Armagh were playing catch-up on almost two seasons of work.

Armagh had to be economical but if you look back on the first 20 minutes they were taking pot shots and snap shots.

I don’t think they had any belief in what they were doing. Armagh should have at least stuck to their principles. Had they done that, the result surely wouldn’t have been any different but the margin might have been a little more bearable.

Once the penalty went in, though, the game was over and Armagh had effectively thrown in the towel.

What also struck me about the game was how different it was in ferocity to Armagh-Tyrone affairs of the past. There was a lot of niceness floating about, too much for my liking. You saw fellas helping each other up when 12 years ago they would have been pulling the hairs off each other’s chest.

Dismal Armagh threw in the towel

It was sickeningly pally-wally but that attitude dictated how we were going to do our business. It lent itself to a defeatist attitude when we should have been on the edge.

Armagh’s next move? Getting out of Division 3, obviously and hopefully. They have to start playing better teams. Division 1 is where Armagh must strive to be in a couple of seasons.

It’s imperative the first step is taken because Division 3 has given all followers of the county team a false sense of where are at.

I watched Armagh play a lot of attractive football this year and thought there was a little more in them; but my opinion was misguided. Come up against the relentless teams and the cracks start to emerge.

As for Tyrone, they will have seen how Dublin snuffed out the Monaghan forward line although Jack McCarron could have taken Philly McMahon for a couple of points early on and Conor McCarthy looked dangerous.

I can’t see how Tyrone can cause Dublin difficulty like that when they don’t even have a full-forward outlet.

Tyrone don’t have the big target man inside and Seán Cavanagh won’t play there.

If you go back to the Ulster final, for the 10 minutes or so that Down had them in a bit of bother, they were pumping high ball into Mark Bradley who is 5ft7in.

They panicked. Dublin will give them plenty more reasons to be anxious.

They will figure out Tyrone quicker than they have done in the past.


Lifestyle

Want to be cultured this Christmas? From TV to podcasts to books, Ed Power has the definite list of everything you missed this year - so you can curl up on the couch and catch upThe definite list of everything you missed this year

Artist Ciara Rodgers teaches older people how to rediscover their creativity and regain confidence, says Rowena WalshBrush with art: Discovering your creative side in later life

Furniture, paintings, jewellery and silver are on offer at James Adam in Dublin, writes Des O’SullivanAll set for home run: See what's on offer at the James Adam sale in Dublin

It’s not too late to hunt out a unique gift. Des O’Sullivan previews sales in the lead-up to the festive seasonA flurry of auctions in Munster sets the scene for Christmas

More From The Irish Examiner