Everything you admire about Armagh attacker Rory Grugan is contained in how he describes his ninth-second goal in Sunday’s qualifier win over Donegal.
Checking the record books, it is a tie for the fastest goal in Championship football, matching Meath’s Jack O’Connor who netted after the same time against Wicklow earlier this year.
And yet when Grugan is asked about it, he talks of the collective, rather than his superb catch and rocket of a finish into the top corner beyond goalkeeper Shaun Patton.
“A throw-up, it’s a set-piece. It’s one of the few times when it is 15 on 15, when you can get the balls into the forwards without any mass defence,” Grugan explains.
“So you try to make the most of it. It was a fairly agricultural pass in. It broke down for us and we were able to get the goal. It was a nice score. You work on those things all the time and it is rare that it comes off.
“If you come away with a score, good, if you come away with a goal, brilliant.”
It’s been some spell for Armagh, who knocked out All-Ireland champions Tyrone in the Athletic Grounds seven days previous, and avenged a seven-point defeat to Donegal in the Ulster Championship.
“I suppose given the fact of how poor we were seven weeks ago in Ballybofey, it was nice to go out and out on a good performance there,” adds the schoolteacher.
“We got a good start, Donegal really came at us then and had a good lead. But we responded well and we were able to use the momentum of the black card to build a bit of a lead.
“If you have that lead, you can control it a wee bit better, tag on a couple of points at the start of the second half and were able to see it out.”
The game hinged on a crazy two minutes with Donegal malfunctioning on their own kickout.
First, goalkeeper Patton tried to go short to Odhran McFadden-Ferry and Armagh’s Jason Duffy nipped in to claim it. The shot from Stefan Campbell was cleared off the line by Caolan Ward but the resulting ‘45’ was belted over by Rian O’Neill.
In the next kickout, Patton tried a short to Brendan McCole but, again, Armagh scrapped for it and eventually Patton ended up pulling down Aidan Nugent. O’Neill stepped up again and drilled home the penalty.
There is a balance to consider when trying to steal a short kickout, Grugan explains.
“Yeah, you have to pick your moments,” he says. “Sometimes you have the time to get up and get a squeeze after a free or if there are a lot of men up the pitch. Other times you have to give it up and defend it a wee bit deeper.
“I suppose there were a couple of times we were able to get a decent press on and those short kicks around the ‘D’ are precarious if your first touch isn’t good as a defender when you win it. And I think the ball just got away from the defenders and you have to capitalise on it with a goal.
“Now, we got the penalty and Rian tucked it away so you are sort of getting maximum reward for squeezing on it.”
They came in with a grudge to settle.
“There’s no doubt we had massive hurt from the way we performed in Ballybofey,” admirs Grugan. “I don’t think I was ever as sick from a team performance as I was the way I felt at the end of that game in Ballybofey seven weeks ago.”
That kind of bravery rewarded them with a kind draw and now they go into their first All-Ireland quarter-final since 2017 when they face Galway.
“A lot can change in seven weeks, it’s funny,” says Grugan.
“We always had total belief and you have tough days. You are always trying to do the right thing and you know that the people we have in place are doing it for the right reasons and they are always ‘Armagh first’, no more than Geezer (Kieran McGeeney, manager).
“It’s vindication for them and the work they have done over the last few years in putting in these performances.
“But that’s all it is. Two wins in a row to get to a quarter-final. We have been a Division One team the last few years so that’s the bar you should be setting.”