Kieran McGeeney disappointed with sloppy goals conceded to Cork as Armagh rescue draw against the Rebels

“Everything steps up a gear” says Orchard boss as they look to Division Two final with Donegal and Championship opener against Fermanagh

Kieran McGeeney's Armagh side welcome Meath to the Athletic Grounds on Saturday. Picture by Mark Marlow
Kieran McGeeney was disappointed Armagh conceded their first goals of the League campaign against Cork on Saturday night (" ")

Allianz Football League Division Two, round seven

Cork 2-16 Armagh 2-16

THE concession of two sloppy goals, their first two of the campaign, was “a bit disappointing” said Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney after their 2-16 each draw with Cork in the final round of the league, but overall, the Orchard County were happy with their night’s work.

The Armagh defence has been unbreachable so far in 2024, with six successive clean sheets heading into the final round, but Chris Og Jones and Luke Fahy beat Blaine Hughes in the visiting goal, with both majors coming as results of turnovers.

Still, Armagh fought back with two late points from Aidan Nugent and Oisin Conaty to keep their unbeaten run intact ahead of the Division Two league final with Donegal at Croke Park next weekend.

“There were ups and downs, I thought we played really well in the first half, and we didn’t do too bad in the second half, maybe a wee bit ponderous on the ball and the two back passes for two goals, we wouldn’t be happy with that,” said McGeeney of his sides performance.

“But they reacted well to them in fairness. You give a team like Cork those sort of chances then they’re going to put them away. They’re really good on the counter, a really good, strong running team.

“It was disappointing to give those goals away when we haven’t given any all year, so I suppose to set a team up for two is a bit disappointing, but they did very well to come back and to get a draw out of it.

“It’s something they can fix, you can’t go to sleep with those type of handpasses, but you have to look at the other side of it, to make six-points up is a good indicator of their fight and their willingness to push on.”

It’s a tight schedule for Armagh, who have their eyes set on a first Division Two title since 2010, but the 2002 All-Ireland winning captain, now in his 10th season in charge of his native county, points out, it’s all about the Championship.

Armagh head to Brewster Park on April 14 for the opening round of the Ulster Championship against Fermanagh, whose resilience caught the eye of McGeeney for their win over Cavan in the final round of the League, although it wasn’t enough to save them from the drop.

“We’re unbeaten and that’s pretty good for us but going into the League final now, everything steps up a gear,” added McGeeney.

“Again, it’s a great reminder for us at the weekend, Fermanagh showed their true worth bouncing back with a win over Cavan (after their 6-17 to 0-11 hammering to Louth).

“The only thing they’ll have in their minds is us in three weeks and it’s going to be one hell of a battle up there and that’s all we can focus on and no more than that.

“Any day you get to Dublin is a good one so everybody will be looking forward to it. The league finals are good for the day and then Monday morning, it’s back to porridge again.”

Cork: M Martin; M Shanley (0-1), D O’Mahony, T Walsh; L Fahy (1-0), S Meehan, M Taylor (0-1); I Maguire (0-1), Colm O’Callaghan (0-3), P Walsh (0-1 mark), S Power, B O’Driscoll (0-1); C Og Jones (1-3), C Corbett (0-1) Brian Hurley (0-4, 0-1 frees) Subs: K O’Hanlon for P Walsh, S Sherlock for B Hurley, E McSweeney for K O’Hanlon, M Cronan for S. Poster, K Flahive for T. Walsh.

Armagh: B Hughes; P Burns, A McKay, P McGrane (1-0); G McCabe, J Duffy, J McElroy; C Mackin, B Crealey (0-2, 0-1 mark); R O’Neill, R Grugan (1-3, 0-3 frees), B McCambridge; C Turbitt (0-5, 0-2 frees), T Kelly, O Conaty (0-4.) Subs: J Og Burns 0-1 for C. Mackin, A Nugent (0-1) for J Duffy, R McQuillan for J McElroy; S Campbell for R O’Neill.