What is Rare is Wonderful

There is a little Irish saying that goes ‘An rud is annamh is iontach’ which roughly translated means ‘what is rare is wonderful’.  Like a Neil McGee point, a championship win over Armagh is a rare thing indeed and we should celebrate it.

For anyone who wants to get a good feeling for how the game played out, I suggest you read the excellent dontfoul review of the numbers.  Nothing suprising in them, but it’s worth reminding ourselves of how off key certain elements of our performance were.

Personally, I thought that the performance on Saturday was decent, but the execution of shots was poor. We were dominant for a large part of the second half but missed too many chances. Sure, Armagh had their missed chances as well, but we ultimately had more shots. Our turnover rate was too high however; this is something that will also need to improve.  In many ways it was a classic favourite’s performance – winning ugly after giving the underdog false hope.

You have to credit our composure and experience to get level and then kick the winner late in the game. At one stage with 10 minutes left, I was worried that if Armagh had gone two up we were done. We still did our best to give Armagh a chance to level, with Paul Durcan’s kickout heading directly over the sideline and then Paddy McBrearty (who had been subbed at this stage) kicking the ball away and giving Joe McQuillan to excuse he needed to award a scoreable free (incidentally, @dowdsie is adamant that this was wrong on the part of the ref).  Either way, it was a sloppy way to see out the game. 

Jim McGuinness has said that he wasn’t happy with what he saw.  Support runners, kickouts (Paul Durcan kicked three to Armagh players from which they scored 1-03), composure on the ball and shot selection all featured as areas where we didn’t deliver on what we had (apparently) been working on in training.  Those are all pretty obvious areas where we were deficient I guess, and it’s good that we have something to work on over the next three weeks.

The McGee brothers, Anthony Thompson, Frank McGlynn, Big Neil, and Michael Murphy all played very well I thought. Rory Kavanagh also for the time he was on.   But no-one player really stood out and no-one really played that badly either, I felt that it was a real collective effort that got us over the line at the end. 

Karl Lacey was hobbled early on and this really seemed to limit his effectiveness as the game wore on, indeed it is curious to me that he wasn’t replaced as surely a fully fit player would have had more of an impact in the second half.  Chirsty Toye and Leo McLoone were replaced earlier than I expected, but I guess they do get through a lot of work and I am sure they are being monitored carefully. 

On Colm McFadden, he had another tough afternoon.  His performance was then picked apart on the Sunday Game which won’t have been nice for him to watch.  But, credit to him for his point in the second half where I thought he showed good composure – we needed the score and if he had gone for goal and missed, it could really have hurt us. I thought it was interesting to see it from another perspective as well – on the Armagh fans forum everyone reckoned that his marker Finian Moriarty did a fine job on him.  Still, on balance, I think he’s become a bit of a liability.  I take no pleasure in saying that, and there’s always the chance it will look foolish, but I think anyone who has been watching this year has been saying much the same since Saturday.

Paddy McBrearty was ultimately our match winner, but right from the whistle I thought ‘here we go again’ and he did end up with more wides/missed shots than scores. Still, he showed great composure to kick the winner. But, it was extremely stupid to boot the ball away that (rightly or wrongly) gave Armagh one last chance.  For someone who only turned 21 years of age last week it’s only fair we cut him some slack and focus on the positives – he now has important contributions in the last two championship games to build on.  With Colm struggling, we really need Paddy to step up.

For Odhran MacNiallais, it was a similar story to Paddy – too many wides. But, he took the goal very well and credit to him for not letting his head drop in the second half to kick an important score.  He’s our top scorer from play in the championship to date and we are really relying on those scores in recent games.

Ryan McHugh gave another energetic display but was caught out a few times, not least for the goal when somehow he was the man left contesting with Stefan Campbell on the edge of the square.  He was also culpable of a turnover late on when he received a Michael Murphy free although we are not clear on the circumstances as the TV cameras didn’t pick it up.  We need to do a better job of ensuring that we get his match ups right, although that is going to be a struggle against Dublin.

The most startling statistic is that Armagh outscored Donegal 1-5 to 0-07 in the second half. But, when you consider that we had only 13 scores but 15 wides, you understand the context. Watching the game back you noticed that we established our usual third quarter dominance on the pitch but not on the scoreboard.  Is it any wonder Armagh gained confidence and picked off a goal to leave us poor craythurs in the stands wondering if we were doomed to yet another defeat to the Orchard County?  At least the lads on the pitch knew better.

Before throw in, I would have taken any kind of win over what we saw during last year’s All Ireland Quarter Final in Croke Park. Add the fact that the game was full of needle and we went behind very late on and you can appreciate the victory more.  Let’s savour it for a while; we have beaten Armagh in a significant championship match.  We will have plenty of time to worry about the Dubs over the next three weeks.

Until Victory, Always

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by gerry ward on August 13, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    well couldn’t put it better myself a very very good analysis of the game Ciaran

    Reply

  2. Hi,

    I dont have your email address so i’m contacting you through your blog. Hope you dont mind.

    Your posts on donegal GAA news are great. Would you be interested in joining a new GAA magazine (hard copy and digital) contributor team ? Do you have a contact email I can use to get in touch. If interested I can fill you in with more detai..

    Regards,
    Mike,
    Kilkenny

    Reply

  3. […] Monaghan was an arm wrestle, but one where it looked like we were always the better team.  Armagh was an odd game.  Sunday, in some respects, came out of […]

    Reply

  4. […] has missed around three months with injury, but will likely be available on Sunday.  Still, close as they ran us last year, that is a game we should have won more comfortably.  If you don’t believe me, check out the […]

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