Evans ponders future as Armagh forge ahead

ALL-IRELAND SFC ROUND 3B:

The Kerry native took over the Rossies at a low ebb and has made considerable strides with them, including promotion to Division Two this year, but he is going to take some time before he makes up his mind about staying on.

Roscommon, who have won three U21 and two Connacht minor titles since 2010, will be anxious to hold on to the former Tipperary manager.

“I haven’t made up my mind as yet. Look that’s for another day, I’ve done a two-year term, that’s now ended and we’ll see where it takes us,” said Evans.

He knows they have made progress and they will be anxious to hold onto him, but it is a long trek from Kerry and there are other factors to be considered.

“We have won 10 out of 13 matches, we have made progress but we thought we might be able to do a bit better but you just can’t put old heads on young shoulders.

“From where Roscommon was two years ago, this is a huge improvement. We’ve got four championship games in this year, we only got two in last year.

“We got a couple of wins in both the Connacht championship and the qualifiers and we’ve got promoted to Division 2. This is a young side that won’t lie down, they won’t lie down, I know that. We just coughed up the ball that bit too easy around the centre as we went forward. Armagh are an experienced side and they hit ferociously hard and fair, they contested every inch of every ball and that’s what championship football is all about.”

Evans knew the style of play Armagh would adopt but all the forewarning in the world is useless unless you have the players and a scheme to break down a team who pull so many men back behind the ball.

It was obvious, too, that Armagh were a bit further down the track in strength and conditioning, which allowed them cram their defence and then intricately and patiently work the ball up the field.

Then they would unlock the Roscommon defence before finding a free man and picking off a score.

Armagh, with Ciarán McKeever marshalling a packed defence and Tony Keran pulling the strings further up the field, had a winning formula even if Jamie Clarke was getting little change out of Niall Carty.

They forced Roscommon to shoot from distance and often under extreme pressure. The outcome was predictable, by half-time Armagh had opened up a four points lead and the Rossies failed to score from play.

Kevin Higgins rectified that after just 15 seconds after the restart but Armagh showed a great ability to counter every Roscommon score with one of their own.

It was demoralising for Roscommon but, in typical fashion, they never gave up and were still in the game six minutes from the end when Armagh went for the jugular.

Armagh, with an impressive bench, appropriately carved the clincher from two subs, with Aaron Kernan floating in a high effort and another sub, Stefan Forker, fisted to the net.

A four-point lead became seven and it went to eight inside a minute when Kevin Dyas got his second of the game. Roscommon, who would have fancied their chances of advancing beforehand with a tally of 1-12, kept going to the end and another of the bright young hopefuls, Ciarán Murtagh, rattled the net with a rebound. But there was never any chance of their summer being extended.

The key now will be to make sure Evans’ reign is extended.

Scorers for Armagh: T Kernan 0-4 (2f, 1’45), S Forker 1-0, J Clarke 0-3 (1f), K Carragher 0-2, S Harold 0-2, K Dyas 0-2, S Campbell 0-1, A Mallon 0-1, A Findon 0-1, R Grugan 0-1.

Scorers for Roscommon: D Murtagh 5 (4f), C Murtagh 1-0, C Cregg 0-1 (1f), K Higgins 0-1, E Smith 0-1, C Daly 0-1, C Shine 0-1, S Kilbride 0-1, D Smith 0-1.

Subs for Armagh: E McVerry for Forker (35), A Kernan for Campbell (46), R Grugan for T Kernan (60), S Forker for Carragher (63), F Moriarty for Shields (67).

Subs for Roscommon: R Stack for Carty (BS, 28-29), D O’Gara for C Cafferkey (35), Stack for I Kilbride (47), D Smith for E Smith (52), C Murtagh for Cregg (60), M Finneran for S Kilbride (65).

Referee: Eddie Kinsella (Laois)

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