Lack of criticism – warrents reply

June 15, 2010

Got plenty of corrospondance during the week over my report on the heavy Armagh defeat at the hands of Monaghan. The main purpose of the letters to me were to tell of the disappointment which readers felt at my lack of criticism of the Armagh performance and the management team. One reader even suggested that it was because a Crossmaglen man was involved in the management team, was the reason for my failure to give out, about what was one of the poorest championship showings by Armagh in an awful long time.

Well I will start my reply by posing this question. Do you think Armagh have over or underachieved so far this year? I am in the camp of overachievers and also feel that the Monaghan game did not do this developing Armagh squad little justice. Firstly the match was to me like a student sitting an exam with full knowledge of the questions that were on the paper. Armagh had played their hand in the win over Derry, plus in the Monaghan camp there was a man who had the inside track on Armagh for a long time. You could see the difference on the sidelines with Grimley very animated early on until he got the balance right to cut off the supply of ball to the danger man  Stevie McDonnell.  Once that was achieved it was game set and match especially when Monaghan were able to use the spare man as extra cover following the sending off.

The biggest criticism I would have from the Casement Park debacle is how come only two subs were sprung from the bench, by management, when there was clear room to introduce three more in numerous positions. In Pairc Escler in the league against Down Armagh folded when they had a man sent off but in the next three games they bounced back.

To me the championship only begins in earnest with the upcoming first round of the qualifiers against Donegal when it is straight knock -out. Armagh have a cartload of Ulster titles in recent times but only one Sam. Paddy O’Rourke’s management was always going to be judged by his teams championship performances or lack of them. I am prepared to see the next time out if promotion to Division One of the league and a division two league title were heralding a false dawning for Armagh.

The meeting of Armagh and Donegal is the standout tie after the draw was made for the first round of the All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers. The two Ulster sides will go head to head on the weekend starting Saturday 26 June, with most of the other so called ‘big hitter’s kept apart.  The CCCC will confirm venues and times early this week. Armagh’s last meeting with Donegal was in the league at Letterkenny and it finished 2-16 to 0-6 in favour of Armagh. This championship meeting will be a different occassion with Donegal hoping to go on a run through the qualifiers like last year which took them to the semi-final.

There is a time to criticise and a time to take stock. At the minute I am taking stock eagerly awaiting the Armagh response on the field of play to see if the Casement cracks are permanent or just a blip.

The full qualifier draw is as follows:

Wexford v London

Carlow v Derry

Kildare v Antrim

Offaly v Clare

Mayo v Longford

Armagh v Donegal

Cavan v Wicklow

Tipperary v Laois/Meath