GAA Football

We must close out crucial Ulster Championship games says Armagh's Aidan Forker

Kieran McGeeney and his management team have spoken about Armagh's game management after failing to kill off Down and Cavan in consecutive games. Picture by Philip Walsh
Neil Loughran

FOR the second Ulster Championship outing in-a-row Armagh let go of a commanding second half lead when they were pegged back by Cavan - and Aidan Forker admits closing out games is something the Orchardmen need to work on.

Boosted by Jarlath Og Burns’s goal after half-time, Kieran McGeeney’s side led by four with 42 minutes gone on Sunday, and looked well placed to book their spot in an Ulster final for the first time since 2008.

Cavan battled back but Armagh still led by two when the Breffnimen lost Ciaran Brady to a 61st minute red card, only for super-sub Cian Mackey to send the match into extra-time with two dramatic late levellers.

Against Down a fortnight earlier the Orchardmen looked in complete control when they led by five with five minutes of normal time still left, only to be pegged back.

Assistant boss Jim McCorry joked that they had provided value for money so far, but admitted Armagh would be working on their game management ahead of Sunday’s replace in Clones.

And Forker says it is an issue that has been spoken about.

“We have talked about it - management have talked about it,” said the experienced Maghery man.

“Kieran always talks about how can we score more than other teams, not about how we contain them. I think it’s the psychology of players that we just retreat a wee bit, take an extra step off them, invite them on.

“We seen with Cian Mackey he has quality and the finishing, and it was a nice wind for him to kick ball with in the final few scores.

“When you are one point down, you just need to keep going and keep going, trying to get that other point…”

Continuing, he added: “This is a fairly young team. We are finding out a lot about ourselves as we go. We always try to grow after each game, get better and go again.

“There will be ups and downs on the curve but in general we are going in the right direction. We are still in the hat, we have only won one game and drawn one game in the Ulster Championship this year and we will look at what we can improve on.

“There are definitely areas for us to brush up on, in terms of our decision-making for sure.”

Armagh recovered well from their 90-plus minutes against Down to turn in an energetic display on Sunday but, with only a one week turnaround, two draining clashes are sure to have taken a toll.

Forker, though, believes the Orchard will actually benefit from their heavy duty schedule.

He said: “This is a strong squad and we are confident that anybody that comes in is not going to weaken us. Everyone knows their role if they are coming in, but I think it’s the opposite almost.

“I think the fact we played 90 minutes the last time, stood to us. We went in at the end of the match there and said ‘we have been here before and they haven’t.’

“I thought at times we did look the stronger although in the second half they penned us in a wee bit. It’s going to be a lot harder to recover in a week than it had been in two weeks.

“It’s a race against time to get fresh for next week.”

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