Armagh and Cavan must do it all again
Armagh assistant manager Jim McCorry didn't quite know if he was relieved, or disappointed, after his side rode their luck at the very end of extra time, their 1-14 equal to Cavan's 0-17 in this drawn Ulster semi-final.
There were echoes of recent games past as Armagh seemed in command in both normal time with three points and a man to the good, and holding a one point lead in extra time.
But in the end Cavan pulled the game out of the fire to salvage a draw, with the replay this Sunday coming in Clones again.
"Obviously a game like that was always going to be nip and tuck. We knew it was going to be like that against Down as well, and probably in the Down game the difference was we had the game won and we allowed Down back into it," said McCorry.
"There was a very strong breeze which is obviously going to create less scoring opportunities for guys.
"Having said that we missed 1-4 in the first half that ought to have been scored so that was disappointing."
McCorry picked up the theme of Armagh’s excruciating tendency to blow leads when in seemingly favourable winning positions.
“There’d be a wee bit of self-criticism for ourselves in terms of our game management towards the end, turnover ball inside our own 50 that allowed them to get the equalising score,” he said.
“But it is heartening that we’re still in it. Probably from a game like that you learn more and whoever comes out of this side of the draw, it’ll certainly benefit them in the long run.”
McCorry also revealed that Armagh will be appealing the red card that referee Derek O’Mahoney awarded to Brendan Donaghy (below) at the very end of normal time.
“The referee said Brendan had come down on the man, Brendan was fairly adamant that he hadn’t so we’ll have a look at the video and we’ll probably be appealing that one because Brendan’s a key player for us,” said McCorry.
“The umpire had indicated to Brendan as well that there was nothing in that, so we’ll have to see how that one pans through this week.”
Asked about the extreme physical toll that this game will have on his players — Armagh and Cavan slogged it out for over 100 minutes of Championship football played at a frenetic pace, McCorry revealed how the schedule will look for his Orchard county players this week.
“The last time it was easier because we had two weeks to prepare, with this one it’ll be really all about recovery this week and minor improvements. Really you’re not going to be able to spend much time on the football field doing a lot, but the areas we need to focus on — we talked about our game management and our scoring — we need to improve on that.”
Cavan manager Mickey Graham is getting a reputation as a miracle worker, and he said about going a man down just prior to Cavan’s late revival; “How many times have you saw it before, a sending off and the team can get galvanised from it. I thought after the sending off we definitely upped our ante. We worked a lot harder and sometimes that can throw a team off.
“Our backs were to the wall at that stage and we said if we find ourselves in a situation like that there was no point sitting back and inviting the extra man.
“When your backs are to the wall you have to come out fighting and it’s better losing by seven points than one and trying to hold the score down. That’s the motto we said, anyway. “