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Toal cut short as he rues Orchard's wastefulness


By Declan Bogue

Members of the media were told that Charlie Vernon - taken off in the 43rd minute of this game - would be handling speaking duties on behalf of the Armagh team.

However, as stand-in manager John Toal walked out, he agreed to give a few minutes of his time.

Asked if the absence of manager Kieran McGeeney - reputed to have taken up a position in the control tower in Pairc Esler to watch the game - had an impact on the team, the 2002 All-Ireland winning midfielder said: "I don't think so. We knew before that he wasn't going to be involved, we talked about it all week and the players knew what the situation was going to be.

"Obviously it was a loss not having him there at half-time to give further directions but it was something we were aware of and we just had to make do."

Pressed on whether he was able to communicate with McGeeney through radio mic, the Keady man stated McGeeney was not permitted to do so.

Anyway, to the football, and he had a matter-of-fact response to the flow of the game.

"We just didn't really get going in the second half," he began.

"Even the first 10-15 minutes they ran up a four or five point lead before we really started, we were very slow coming out of the blocks. Then we weathered the storm and came into the game.

"At the start of the second half we didn't take off again, they got the lead. We had plenty of opportunities, simple opportunities, to put the ball over the bar but we didn't take them. Gradually we just ran out of time. We hit the post on a number of occasions but it was just one of those days."

He added: "We had been moving well in training and in challenge matches leading up to that but we never brought it to the table when it counted today which is when it counts.

"They got the first couple of scores of the second half and it was a bit of a lead to eat into and we were rushing it, we were panicking, trying to put the ball through a packed defence - which isn't going to work - rather than trying to draw them out and take our scores."

Before the tape recorder could get to two minutes, a team representative said that would be all for now. An All-Ireland winner, college-educated and involved in management for several years, clearly could not be trusted to talk about a game of football.

The whole experience felt devoid of any charm or even respect for John Toal.

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