Armagh need to be better at reacting to refereeing styles: Rory Grugan
ARMAGH captain Rory Grugan has urged his team-mates to react quicker to the way in which referees officiate games and says they take away many hard lessons from their one-point defeat to Donegal last weekend.
The Orchard men conceded 28 fouls to Donegal's 12 and while a portion of those decisions might have been a bit harsh on Kieran McGeeney's men, there were plenty of examples where their tackling was over-zealous and rightly punished.
However, rather than blame Monaghan whistler Martin McNally for his performance in Ballybofey on Saturday night, Grugan insisted Armagh needed to be more mindful of being blown up too often.
“We looked at the free count and there were two times more fouls against us and it's up to us to probably be quicker and better at assessing what way the referee is refereeing the game because different referees have different interpretations of the tackle,” said Grugan.
“Maybe it took us that bit longer to adjust and again we maybe weren't cute enough when Donegal were trying to win frees; they had a wee bit more experience on that side of things.”
The Armagh camp appeared to be frustrated with the perception that Donegal were more adept at winning frees and running down the clock, although Stephen Sheridan could easily have been booked or sent off for leaving a bit on Eoghan ‘Ban' Gallagher during the early exchanges.
As it transpired, Armagh's James Morgan and Donegal's Jason McGee were dismissed for their part in a 17th minute melee, with both camps likely to appeal the red card decisions.
“It's a big learning curve for us playing against teams that have been playing in Division One and playing last year's Ulster champions. They have nothing to learn on the free count side of things,” Grugan added.
“We failed to deal with the elements at different stages. In the first half when we had that bit of a breeze there were a couple of stages where we had that momentum and we allowed Donegal to kill that. I thought Donegal showed more experience in terms of running down the clock.
“In the second half they were holding the ball and winning their frees and keeping that two or three-point difference.
“It was only in the last five minutes we closed that gap but I still kind of feel that the chances were there. We had the odd half goal chance and stuff and we thought we could get something from the game.”
Donegal's Michael Murphy, a 29th minute substitute, swung the game in the home side's favour with a goal just before half-time and two brilliant points in the final quarter to ease Donegal's relegation worries and increase Armagh's with two games remaining.
“We had a two-point lead and they had a very good counter-attack for a goal and the next thing you're behind at half-time.
“And they were able to control that game with the wind in the second half. Murphy kicked a couple of big scores to put them three or four up and they were able to keep us at a distance from there.”
With games against Fermanagh (a) and Cork (h) to come for Armagh and Division Two safety not yet secured, Grugan said the upcoming fixtures are “absolutely massive now”.