McArthur has no complaints on Armoy Championship exit

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Armoy manager John McArthur

He was the last man to leave the Randalstown pitch side on Sunday but Armoy manager John McArthur was more than happy to have a chat with us after a disappointing defeat for his side.  The Armoy man was full of praise for the victors when he told us: “The most important thing is, well done St Enda’s.  They were the better team on the day and deserved to win.”

McArthur continued by telling us that he expects Naomh Éanna to push on from Sunday’s match, adding: “They are a good side and but for the young lad Maskey getting sent off in last year’s final then they could have won it.  We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, we’ve had tough tussles with them in Division Three and they’re pushing to get into Division Two which they will do.”

McArthur told us that they were aware of the strengths Naomh Éanna possessed and it affected their planning in the build-up: “Their long range striking was excellent as it was all last year.  That’s why we went with a strong half forward line but there’s nothing we can do about it now.  We’re beat and that’s it.”

“They played with sweepers but we were expecting that.  We just couldn’t get enough ball or win enough ball.  ‘Rocky’ couldn’t get into the game for us and our backs played well to a certain degree, they scored their last six points from frees I think it was but we are bitterly disappointed.  We prepared very, very well for this match as we always do.

“It all comes down to big performances on big days and you need to be mentally tuned in.  For a period of time there was only a point between the sides, they never got to more than a score between us until the end and we always trust ourselves not to panic.  Maybe the wide count went against us and they won a lot of dirty ball and were prepared to win that dirty ball that we couldn’t.”

The Armoy manager was disappointed that his side didn’t play to the potential they had shown in recent weeks but refused to use the pitch conditions as an excuse for their defeat when he continued: “We had got into a good run of form for the last few weeks, beating St Galls at home and Clooney Gaels.  They were relegation battles and if we hurled to the standard we did in those games then we would have won this match.

“It (pitch conditions) should have suited us.  We’re a physically strong team and should have been able to deal with the conditions but the way they were able to retain possession in the tackle was the difference.  They won a lot of dirty ball and more than we did.  We won our share of 50/50’s but I think it was the 60/40’s that we didn’t win that hurt us.”

All signs were pointing to an Armoy victory when they took the lead for the first time in the match with 12 minutes of the tie remaining.  Naomh Éanna found another gear and McArthur couldn’t hide his disappointment when reflecting on what might have been when he concluded: “We didn’t push on when we went a point up and that’s extremely disappointing.  We’re gutted but that’s hurling for you.

“Fair play to St Enda’s and I hope they go on to win it now.  They’re a big club and they’ve put a lot of work into this.  They were unlucky last year but they are more than capable of winning the championship this year.”

Match report

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