Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

No excuses this time for Armagh: Paddy O'Rourke

Controversial scores are part and parcel of the All-Ireland football championship landscape.

In practically every match a debate ensues in relation to the legality of at least one score. Armagh had double cause to feel aggrieved against Wicklow in the second round of the qualifiers when Mick O'Dwyer's side scored not one but two goals which belonged to the 'doubtful' category.

Full forward Seanie Furlong took ten steps before sweeping the ball past Paul Hearty for his opening goal and then seemed to rip the ball from the hands of full-back Brendan Donaghy before popping in his second.

Armagh boss Paddy O'Rourke has been round too many corners though to know that there is nothing to be gained from crying over spilled milk as he prepares for tomorrow night's replay in Aughrim.

"The simple fact of the matter is that we had the game won a couple of times but we gave away needless scores and let them back into it. I thought there were question marks over both of Wicklow's goals but that's football, you have to take these things and go on," insists O'Rourke.

"Wicklow are a very difficult side to play against as they have shown. If we had been a wee bit more economical in front of goals, I feel we would have won last weekend. This time, we have to get it right."

On the tight confines of the Aughrim pitch Wicklow are likely to be even more buoyant and committed. Armagh were ponderous and uncertain in the first half but are capable of much better cohesion especially if Aaron Kernan, Ciaran McKeever, Charlie Vernon and Jamie Clarke are on top of their game.

The orchard county certainly cannot afford to give the ball away as much, nor can they afford to spurn scoring chances. James Stafford and Rory Finn exerted a vice-like grip in the middle last Saturday and it was not until substitute Johnny Hanratty busied himself intelligently that Armagh began to look more potent.

If Clarke and skipper Steven McDonnell are provided with a decent service they can trouble the home defence although Brian McGrath, Alan Byrne and especially goalkeeper John Finn stood tall in the drawn encounter.

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