HomeFootballKieran McGeeney knows Armagh’s Ulster final opponents ‘won’t be shaking in their...

Kieran McGeeney knows Armagh’s Ulster final opponents ‘won’t be shaking in their boots’ after semi display


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However, he insisted that because it was the Ulster Championship, he wasn’t surprised by Down’s heroic challenge, which just fell short. Armagh substitute Jason Duffy kicked the winning point deep in injury time.

“In Ulster, you are never surprised by the challenge. What can you say? Ulster has always been the same.”

Three of Armagh’s second-half substitutes Duffy, Aidan Nugent and Oisín O’Neill hit the last three scores as Armagh turned a two-point deficit on its head in the closing minutes, having conceded an own goal in the first half and another goal early in the second period.

“They all did well. I am very happy with the way the boys dug the game out. It wasn’t pretty. But we knew that’s the way they were going to come and play.

“A lot of stuff went against us. Balls bounced for Down, own goal, a few frees, that sort of thing. I was really delighted with the way they kept their composure under a lot of stress. We have lost a lot of those games over the years so to win it was really, really good. I am delighted for the boys.”

Meanwhile, devastated Down boss Conor Laverty said he was heartbroken.

“We put a lot of time and effort into that game. We put our life on hold since the Antrim game We really believed we could win.

“We totally believed in the game plan, but just coming down the straight we just didn’t tag on a few scores that just what left us coming up short.

“At this level, you have to be so clinical. We had spoken about this and our ability to get to that 14, 15, 16-point margin. We have to get better at that. It is the one area we are working hard at and the players are really applying themselves, too.”

Laverty said that having watched Armagh go after Fermanagh in the early stages of the quarter-final, Down believed they couldn’t be cautious early.

“We wanted to be a bit more secure in defence. A lot of the pieces of the jigsaw fell into place, but just the final piece let us down and that’s the heart-breaking thing. But I don’t think anybody could ask any more of the players in terms of effort and attitude. I think did the jersey proud.”

Down will now miss out on the Sam Maguire Cup for the third year on the spin, which Laverty acknowledged was a disappointment.

“No reflection on any other competition, but our aim was to get promoted and we wanted to get into the Sam Maguire. But we will give the next competition [the Tailteann Cup] our utmost respect,” he said.

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