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Armagh left feeling blue by Cavan

By Declan Bogue

He fronted up afterwards; you have to give him that. While the knives were out for Paul Grimley in the saloons of Cavan town and in the television studios, he stood in the tunnel here at Breffni Park, his shell-shocked players filing out of the dressing room behind him, and defended his approach; not so much attacking, but Charge of the Light Brigade.

"We had worked on this high-pressure game," said Grimley. "We didn't adapt to it at all in the first half. Second half, probably was a bit more determination, bit more fluency. We were working it a bit better and taking the right shooting options whereas in the first half we were panic shooting at times.

"You have to give Cavan credit for the tactics that they used. This is the way we have been working for six months and as I said to the boys, there wouldn't be much to me if I changed it after 35 minutes."

In truth, he had left himself no room to manoeuvre. Nobody wants to dance on any graves here, but by developing one style of play and one style only, it leaves a team rigid and unable to adapt to changing circumstances. Armagh were hamstrung by their own lack of choice.

Surely he wasn't tempted to mix it up, not even a teeny-weeny bit? "I was never. If you are in this job here, you have to stand for what you believe in, which win or lose, I will do. You try your best and that's how we worked it.

"Five against five (at the back), in fairness probably a lot of people will point the finger and say that was tactically naive. Maybe, but that's the way we are going to play and that's it," he said.

There were four points in this game at the close but it felt an awful lot more than that. In fairness to Grimley (pictured below, right with Cavan boss Terry Hyland) he could have made a few shapes at placing the blame on Maurice Deegan for not allowing Jamie Clarke's goal, a let-off at a crucial time.

Admirably, he chooses not to go too far down that road.

"The referee was Ok, there might have been one decision, maybe the goal decision, the fact that it was allowed in the game before might have put a question mark over it. But again, we are out of the Championship and I am not going to turn around here now and make an excuse. In our first-half performance alone here today, we didn't deserve to win that game."

Armagh will now go away and consider how best to spend the six weeks before the qualifiers kick in. Grimley cited the example of Laois last season who lost their first-round game in Leinster, yet still made it to the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

"It certainly doesn't look good tonight, but we will see where we are in July and August," he finished.

A few yards away stood Terry Hyland, glowing with satisfaction after his second Championship win as a Cavan manager, the first coming against the forthcoming opponents Fermanagh in last years' first-round qualifier.

He said it was the workrate and honesty that pleased him most about the win.

"I know it's all clichés, but that's what it is," he said in that matter-of-fact way of his.

"You have to work hard and we made mistakes, but the difference is that the guys who made the mistakes recovered and worked hard to get the ball back. That's what you have to look at, you can't hold your head just because you made a mistake.

"That's where the honesty comes into it, when a fella has ran to his last gasp and is willing to let another come in and take his place."

Naturally, we couldn't let the occasion pass without asking his take on the extreme generosity of space and time that the Armagh formation afforded Cavan.

So was the fact that they had Alan Clarke as a sweeper, and Armagh pushed up on him the major factor in the winning and losing of this game?

"Possibly may have been. Jamie Clarke is a hell of a player and you can't afford to leave much room. We probably identified also the way they move forward, they move a lot of players forward and they left gap... we didn't necessarily need to have that many forwards up," he said.

Onwards to Brewster Park now on June 16.

"A different challenge. It will be a different game, it will be interesting, a local derby-type game," said Hyland.

Oh, it'll be different alright. You can bet on that.

Belfast Telegraph


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