belfasttelegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

If Armagh tighten up, they could ambush Donegal

Paul Grimley

I was very impressed with Armagh in their win over Meath and there is no doubt that they are improving as the championship goes on.

Losing their inspirational captain Ciaran McKeever was a blow to them but Aaron Kernan came into the side and went on to score a couple of great points.

Armagh appear to be adapting a strategy of bringing on substitutes at the same time in every game and it is working very well for them as everyone they bring on seems to carry out the same game-plan and makes contributions.

Brian Mallon got two superb points, and with the replacements weighing in with three or four scores as well, it all went a long way towards securing their win.

Paul Grimley's side didn't play with a sweeper but Brendan Donaghy dropped back at times and it stifled Meath.

When Armagh led 0-8 to 0-2 I expected them to kick on because Meath didn't seem to want it or know how to go about getting into the game.

The five points that they got before half-time took them back into the game but all credit to Armagh they did not allow themselves to panic and just went out and played the better football again in the second half.

Going forward, though, they can't afford to let the likes of Donegal get easy scores like that or they will make them pay while they hit five or six short into the keeper's hands and the better sides will punish you.

They are into the quarter-finals now and the media ban seems to be working in their favour.

It was similar to us in 2008 when we lost to Down as we developed a siege mentality that everyone was against us and Armagh will try and do something similar.

It definitely brings the panel of players closer together and Armagh won't mind being written off and the Donegal game may well be an ambush waiting to happen.

The second game between Monaghan and Kildare was exciting although very defensive.

Kildare were a bit like Barcelona in that they retained possession well without ever really going anywhere.

Ciaran McManus was well kept in check by the Kildare defence although it certainly didn't help with the fact that Monaghan were simply too lateral in their approach play.

Emmett Bolton caused the Monaghan defence a lot of problems with his running from deep, scoring 2-1 in the process, but when he picked up a black card in the second half Kildare were no real threat.

Ahead of the Dublin game next weekend, though, Monaghan have it all to do.

While they struggled against Bolton, against the Dubs they will have four or five players coming through like that every time and it's difficult to see how they are going to stop that.

No doubt Malachy O'Rourke and Ryan Porter will study it and then come up with some plan but they have it all to do against the All-Ireland champions.

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