LAST week’s events rocked the entire Association to its core so it’s only correct to start there before getting stuck into the Ulster final analysis.
I along with everyone else was rattled and shocked last week when the news broke, but what I will say is that it’s not my place or anyone else’s place to comment on this issue when we know next to nothing about it.
This issue is far too serious and, considering that there are young children involved in the matter, I think it’s only right that everyone takes a step back and we let the correct people deal with this issue without everyone getting involved.
Given all that happened, it was a strange build-up to the Ulster final with very little talk about what actually may take place on the pitch in terms of these two teams going into battle for the Ulster title. But the game itself had absolutely everything, and as a neutral. It was a fantastic game to watch. I thought that Derry were a little off the pace, and if I’m being brutally honest, I think that Armagh let this one slip considering all the things that happened during the week to Derry. Ultimately Armagh failed to land that killer blow.
You can look back at a number of decisions and perhaps a number of scores that were missed, but for me the crucial period in this game was in the first half of extra time when Derry were down a man having lost Brendan Rogers to a black card and Armagh playing with the breeze. I fully understand the teams set out tactically and are very strict on sticking to what they are supposed to do, but there comes a time within a game where you simply have to cut loose and go off script if you are going to chase the glory.
That first period of extra time was exactly the time to do this. If Armagh were a little braver and went for the jugular, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that they would have been crowned Ulster champions.
You just knew that if Derry were within touching distance when Brendan Rodgers was reintroduced, they would be in pole position to win the game. By that stage, in my opinion, they just were not going to lose and that’s exactly how things transpired.
When we look at the game objectively we can see with some certainty that Armagh were lucky enough to get to the penalty shoot-out because I am not sure if that free on Stefen Campbell would have been given at any other stage in the game.
Penalties are a cruel way to lose any game, but when you consider that we are talking about an Ulster Championship final then it must be devastating for those Armagh players.
Kieran McGeeney and his players came so close to winning what would have been a massive building block for them, but now they have to dust themselves down and try and make a real impact on the All-Ireland series.
Like I said, I felt that Derry played a little below par at the weekend, but that is understandable given how their week was turned upside down.
On Tuesday night it was announced that Rory Gallagher is stepping aside for good and if I’m honest I’m just not sure where that leaves this Derry team.
Before anyone jumps on my back I want to reiterate what I said at the beginning: that it’s not my place or anyone else’s place to comment on any matter that is ongoing at present.
I am just talking about football matters here when I say that this is a massive blow to the Derry footballers and I feel sorry for them because at the end of the day they did nothing wrong here.
Ciaran Meenagh is now in charge and I’m sure he will do a wonderful job but at the end of the day those players have spent the last number of years working so closely with someone and living off their every word.
Now that that person is no longer there then I’m just not sure how things are going to go for them.
Hopefully all of the talk this weekend will be based around the games that are happening with the start of the All-Ireland series.
We have some absolute crackers in store so let’s hope that we can all get back to talking about what we all love this weekend in a positive manner.
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