Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney has questioned if his team are getting enough frees and admitted it could require a change in tactics to address the issue.
Niall Grimley kicked three points from placed balls in Saturday’s Division 3 final win over Fermanagh, helping to cap promotion with the title outright. Seamus Quigley converted nine for Fermanagh and McGeeney suggested Armagh generally haven’t been receiving enough of the decisions from referees.
The Orchard County legend claimed that his team didn’t receive any frees at all in their Round 7 loss in Wexford.
One Wexford newspaper report claimed Armagh were awarded 12 of the 37 frees though McGeeney may have been referencing frees in scoring positions, as they didn’t score any points from frees. The first of their four second-half frees against Wexford didn’t arrive until the 62nd minute and he indicated they struggled to get frees again on Saturday.
“The free-kick count (against Armagh) 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 that’s our coaching, or that’s our style of play. 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 enjoyed a strong game for Armagh, scoring 0-4, though Andrew Murnin was their key performer, hitting 1-3 from full-forward and punishing Fermanagh with his 54th-minute goal. He was in the right place at the Hill 16 End of the ground when a high ball contested by Gregory McCabe and goalkeeper Patrick Cadden broke kindly.
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. Sub Tomas Corrigan, Conall Jones and Barry Mulrone all scored late points though time simply ran out on Fermanagh’s bid for silverware under Rory Gallagher.
The teams will meet again next month in that Ulster championship tie in Enniskillen.
McGeeney has predicted that the Championship tie will be another slugfest, as opposed to a free flowing game 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 chief Gallagher indicated 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 forwards. Armagh played some great ball into their inside forwards this time.”
The sides were level seven times and registered 17 scores each though the Murnin goal edged it for Armagh, meaning there should be little in it next month. “We’ve had two good looks at them now and I think on the balance of both days, they were marginally better than us,” said Gallagher.
McGeeney welcomed Ethan Rafferty and Kevin Dyas back to competitive action and handed Conor Macken his first start at the back.
Scorers for Armagh:
A. Murnin (1-3); N. Grimley (0-4, 3 frees); A. Forker, P. Burns, R. McShane (0-2 each); G. McCabe, B. Crealey and N. Rowland (0-1 each).
Scorers for Fermanagh
: Seamus Quigley (0-9, 9 frees); C. Jones (0-3); R. Jones (0-2); D. McCusker, T. Corrigan, B. Mulrone (0-1 each).
B. Hughes; B. Donaghy, A. McKay, C Macken; P. Burns, N. Rowland, G. McCabe; S. Sheridan, C. Vernon; B. Crealey, A. Forker, N. Grimley; R. Grugan (c), A. Murnin, E. Rafferty.
R. McShane for Vernon (32); G. McParland for Rafferty (47); K. Dyas for Rowland (60); O. MacIomhair for Grugan (70); R. Owens for Macken (72).
P. Cadden; C. Cullen, M. Jones, E. McHugh; B. Mulrone, J. McMahon, A. Breen; T. Clarke, E. Donnelly (c); C. McGee, D. McCusker, R. Jones; Sean Quigley, C. Jones, Seamus Quigley.
C. Corrigan for Sean Quigley (5, black card); K. Connor for McHugh (h/t); D. Teague for Clarke (44); T. Corrigan for Breen (51); E. Maguire for McMahon (63).
J. Molloy (Galway).
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