Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Ulster final: ‘It’s heartbreaking. What can you do?’ – Kieran McGeeney on Armagh’s penalty pain

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“There’s not much you can say,” said Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney, his voice low and strained from barking instructions from the sideline all afternoon.

“Sometimes it goes for you, sometimes it goes against you. It seems to be going against us more than for us.

“It’s heartbreaking. What can you do? There’s not much I can do. I can’t change it. Can’t turn it around like.

“I can’t ask more of the players, they give us everything. It’s just one of those days and you wish one of these days it’ll bounce for you instead of against you.”

Armagh have been edged out in several big games in recent years, with the four shootout defeats (Galway, Derry, Monaghan and Donegal) and the one-point Division Two final loss to Donegal prime examples of their crushing close calls.

Here, they let slip a four-point advantage before Tiernan Kelly watched a last-minute free drift wide. In the second period of extra-time, Aidan Nugent landed a mighty score to give them a two-point cushion. Still it wasn’t enough as Odhran Doherty’s leveller sent a second successive Ulster final to penalties.

“The turning point was Oisin Conaty going through and they got half a block on it,” added McGeeney.

“It dropped into the keeper’s hands, that would’ve put us five up but Donegal are a good team as everyone’s pointing out. You have to give them a credit. That’s it.”

Armagh may reflect on the Conaty score that never was. They may also reflect on a 27-minute period between Campbell’s point and Andrew Murnin’s score six minutes into extra-time when they failed to raise a white flag. Donegal scored five during that period.

When asked what Armagh must do to win a shootout, McGeeney replied: “I suppose the only thing to do would be to win it ordinary time.

“It’s tough like. It’s hard work and I suppose when it happens four or five times, maybe it’s not luck, maybe it’s something else that I’m missing. What can you do?”

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