Armagh hoping to learn lessons of first round loss

Karl McKeegan has joined Antrim's backroom team
Karl McKeegan is now in his second year in charge of Armagh Karl McKeegan is now in his second year in charge of Armagh

ARMAGH have the opportunity to bounce right back following their opening round defeat to Mayo last Sunday when they host fellow Connacht opponents Sligo in Crossmaglen this weekend.

The Orchard County trailed by four-points at the interval in Castlebar and were in a good place but didn’t push on after the turnaround to really use the blustery conditions to their advantage.

Karl McKeegan’s side scored more facing into the wind than they did with the breeze at their backs and the Cushendall native says his side must take those lesson’s into this weekend’s second round.

“It was really, really disappointing because there was a big breeze and Mayo were taking their points well and shooting from range,” said McKeegan. “We held in there and worked the ball well, we just didn’t get our scores, but we had chances.

“We got two goals late on in the first half and they brought us back into it and we were only four points down against that breeze and in a really, really good position at half time.

“It was just all about pushing on in the second half and to score three points with a big breeze is just not good enough and that’s what it boils down to. We scored 2-4 against the breeze and 0-3 with it, which is crazy when you think about it.

“We just have to look at why that was, whether we overplayed the ball a wee bit trying to get too close to the scoring zone but there’s a lot of good positives to work on as well.

“The first half against the breeze, we worked the ball brilliantly at times and got two goals against that so we just have to really work out why we didn’t score as well as we should have because scoring 2-7 isn’t going to win many games at any level.

“We’ll have to work a little bit on that this week, work on our shooting and see where that’ll take us. Overall, last week, it was a disappointing result in the end, but it was tough conditions, and we maybe didn’t play against their sweeper the correct way so there’s plenty of things to work on and that’s just what we have to bring into the Sligo game.”

Armagh will be minus Shea Harvey this weekend, who received a straight red against Mayo, but outside of that, McKeegan will be able to choose from a full deck. “Most people seem to have come through the game alright,” added the Armagh boss.

“Hopefully we’ll get a couple more in, there were a few boys injured going into last week’s game and weren’t available so hopefully they’ll be available this week.

“There’s a good squad there and the games come thick and fast, so everybody is going to get a chance, We need our full panel so there’s always a chance for somebody else to come in and that’s the way it has to be.

“Last year we probably tried to rely too much on the same players and then when it got to the business end of the season in the championship, we probably ran out of steam.

“Anybody that gets a chance has to take it, whenever your chance comes along you have to put your hand up.”