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McGeeney not satisfied despite landslide victory

Armagh 2-17 Wicklow 2-7

By John Campbell

Published 29/06/2015

At the double: Jamie Clarke hit a late brace for Armagh
At the double: Jamie Clarke hit a late brace for Armagh

A ten-point winning margin is normally sufficient reason for a manager to break open a bottle of champagne.

But for someone like Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney, who sets exacting standards, it can represent nothing more than a clinical reality check.

His team may have hurdled Division Four outfit Wicklow to march on in the All-Ireland qualifiers but McGeeney is left to ponder what he considers to be blemishes on their By copybook.

"We missed goal chances and we also should have scored more points," reflected McGeeney.

"I'm getting tired of hearing about the could haves and should haves in relation to what Armagh should be getting.

"When you come up against the really good sides you have to be taking your chances and that's the benchmark against which we must judge ourselves."

With Charlie Vernon immense at the back and Jamie Clarke on fire up front, Armagh should have left Wicklow flailing in quicksand long before the closing phase of the contest when Clarke fired home a brace of goals to add gloss to the score.

Up until then, Wicklow had been breathing down the Orchard County's necks, their thirst for a shock result palpable.

"Jamie's goals put us into the clear but we have to analyse the mistakes we made in this game," pointed out McGeeney.

Caolan Rafferty, Michael McKenna and Andrew Murnin fizzed impressively but Armagh's 0-6 to 1-2 interval lead was tenuous to say the least considering the way in which John McGrath had extracted the maximum sanction for a home defensive lapse by burying the ball into the net in the 25th minute.

It was left to Ethan Rafferty, the stylish McKenna and Stefan Campbell to keep McGeeney's men afloat until they threatened to capsize in the 56th minute when Stafford poked in Wicklow's second goal.

At 0-14 to 2-7, Wicklow's brilliantly effective resistance movement had translated itself onto the scoreboard but the aristocracy reasserted itself when Clarke drilled in the first of his goals in the 65th minute and followed it up three minutes later.

Cue relief all around - and that pithy assessment from a less than impressed McGeeney.

"We will need to step up the next day. We have to improve our conversion rate in terms of taking chances," he added.

Armagh: M McNeice, M Murray, C Vernon, S Connell; A Mallon, B Donaghy, J Morgan; C Rafferty 0-2, E Rafferty 0-4 (1 '45', 1free); A Forker 0-1, M McKenna 0-3, T Kernan; S Campbell 0-1, A Murnin 0-2, J Clarke 2-4. Subs: M McConville for Connell, D McKenna for Forker (both 52 mins), C O'Hanlon for Kernan (58), S Forker for Campbell (67), G McParland for Murnin (69).

Wicklow: R Lambert; C Hyland 0-1, R O'Brien, A Murphy; D Healy, P McLoughlin, M Kenny: A McLoughlin, D Woods; D Hayden 0-1, S Kelly, N Gaffney; P Cronin 0-4 (0-2 frees), T Kelly, J McGrath 1-0. Subs: P McWalter for Kenny, C McGaynor 0-1 for Gaffney (both half-time), J Stafford (1-0) for Woods (55), D Odlum for McGrath (56), P Cunningham for Kelly (57). Yellow card: McGrath (9).

Referee: Eddie Kinsella (Laois).

Belfast Telegraph

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