Orchard boss calls for reaction

By Kieran Lynch

ARMAGH will need a big reaction when they host Roscommon at the Athletic Grounds this Sunday.

Having started their campaign well with wins over Louth and Monaghan, a 2-21 to 1-14 loss against Tyrone rocked the Orchardmen, and manager Padraig O’Connor spoke to Gaelic Life about what went wrong last Sunday.

“We didn’t take our chances. We created 38 chances and missed 23 of them,” he said.

“I was happy with the chances that we created, but definitely our conversion rate was very poor and must improve.

“The performance wasn’t the worst; I’m not sure that 10 points (the margin of defeat) actually reflects what went on in the game.”

A succession of fouls proved to be Armagh’s undoing as Tyrone’s dead-ball marksman Damian Casey had a field day, finishing with a tally of 0-13.

“Tyrone had 15 frees – so that’s difficult to defend against. As for what’s a foul and what’s legal, everybody sees that differently and the referee saw them as fouls,” said O’Connor, but he did concede that the referee wasn’t to blame.

“To be fair, the match was aggressive, and the two teams stood up to one another and played hard and played fair, but I wouldn’t be looking to blame the officials at all.

“It’s something that we need to look at ourselves. We talked about keeping the free count down, and when we’re playing Roscommon this weekend, we have to get it down, because Cathal Dolan will put them over the bar.”

Armagh will now be on the search for more consistency. They overcame Louth in their first match despite not putting in their strongest performance, before they blew Monaghan away with a 21-point win but followed that up with the disappointing loss against Tyrone.

Now, O’Connor’s men will have to refocus once again.

“We asked for a reaction after Louth and we got that,” said O’Connor.

“We got the opposite, nearly, last weekend. So, it’s time for a reaction again. We gave the lads the weekend off previous to the Tyrone game, and maybe that has gone against us.

“It’s all guns blazing this week and I don’t think there will be many more weekends off until this season is over!”

Roscommon won’t provide easy competition for Armagh, as they’re in search of promotion back to Division 2B, after relegation last year.

They sit joint-top of the table with Tyrone, and they’ll be coming to the Cathedral City full of confidence after a 4-20 to 0-6 hammering of Warwickshire.

“They’re a big, strong team, they can hurl, and we’ll need to be at our very best to be coming anywhere close to them,” said the Armagh manager.

A top three position remains the goal for the Orchard County, as they look to get out of Division 3A for the first time since 2018, and they’ll know how important Sunday’s clash is in the promotion hunt.

“It’s huge,” O’Connor admitted. “We need to take something from it to guarantee that we’re in the top three.

“We really don’t want to go into a league semi-final haven been beating by both Tyrone and Roscommon, because you’re going into it on the back foot then.

“So, we’ll be asking for a big performance from the lads this week.”

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