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Shock defeat is so difficult for McGeeney to swallow

Armagh 0-16 Laois 2-11

By John Campbell

Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney is noted for plain speaking and the 2002 All-Ireland-winning captain certainly did not mince his words following his team's unexpected reversal against Laois at the Athletic Grounds yesterday.

A week ago, Laois were humbled by lowly Louth and the Orchard County had been expected to bolster their own promotion hopes at the expense of their visitors.

Instead, Laois stunned their hosts in a turbulent finish that saw referee David Gough dish out three red cards.

For McGeeney, though, the defeat was clearly a major disappointment.

"It was all so disappointing. We should have had the game won at half-time. We were five or six points up, then we gave them a penalty and that marked a turning point in the game," said McGeeney.

"The buck stops with me unfortunately and I have to take it on the chin. We had three open goal chances in the first half, we were missing shots from 13 or 14 metres out and these misses were by quality forwards.

"It's very hard to take. We have one point out of four that were there for the taking a week ago and that tells you everything."

Armagh's early lethargy was severely punished in the ninth minute when Niall Donoher snapped up a pass on the half-way line and thundered through untouched before planting the ball in the corner of the net.

When Danny Lottrell flashed over a 13th-minute point, Laois looked comfortable at 1-2 to 0-1 but Stefan Campbell and Paul Hughes posted points for the hosts to bring them back into contention.

Indeed, Laois did not score from play for half an hour as Armagh grew in confidence and they were on level terms at the break (0-7 to 1-4).

It was in the final quarter, though, that things went badly wrong for Armagh.

They saw their 0-14 to 1-6 lead overturned, Aidan Forker and Mark Shields incurred red cards and while Laois lost Paul Kingston to a red card, by that stage they had copper-fastened their victory.

Donie Kingston scored 1-6 and proved a considerable thorn in the side of the Armagh defence while the visitors' work rate in the closing stages cemented their authority and left the Orchard men with a major headache going into the second phase of the league.

Armagh: M McNeice; M Shields, C Vernon, P Hughes 0-1; A Forker 0-1, N Rowland 0-1, A McKay; S Sheridan 0-1, S O'Neill 0-3, ; N Grimley, R Grugan 0-1, S Campbell 0-5 (3f); A Duffy, E Rafferty, O MacIomhair. Subs: J Clarke (0-3) for MacIomhair (24), A Findon for Rafferty (half-time), G McParland for Duffy (53), C O'Hanlon for Grugan (67). Yellow cards: M Shields (46) Findon (48), Grimley (52), Campbell (58), Rowland (66). Red cards: Shields (62), Forker (71).

Laois: G Brody; D Strong 0-1, D Booth, J Kelly; E Buggie, K Lillis, S Attride; C Begley, D Luttrell 0-1; C Murphy 0-1, A Doran, N Donoher 1-2; R O'Connor, D Kingston 1-6 (1-0 pen, 4f), K Meaney. Subs: D Conway for O'Connor (15), R Munnelly for Murphy (45), B McMahon for Doran (46), P Kingston for Ramsbottam (54), E Lowry for Donoher (62), D O'Reilly for Lillis (63). Yellow cards: Doran (44), Booth (56), P Kingston (64). Red card: P Kingston (68).

Referee: David Gough (Meath)

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