Justin McNulty felt his team’s lack of a killer touch in front of goal was the only thing missing from what was an otherwise ‘complete performance’ from his team against Longford on Sunday afternoon.
Speaking after the game, when asked if he felt the performance of his players was any comfort after the defeat, the Armagh admitted that it was. “It’s a massive consolation, certainly you can’t criticize the work rate of the team, the teamwork of the team, they gave it their all.
“Barring a little bit of clinicality, it was a complete performance, you would have to say. We completely dominated areas of the game for long, long periods, and the work rate and effort of the players was phenomenal, and I commend that in their performance. Obviously, the clinicality up front is something we’ll have to improve on.”
That inability to kill off the game was something which was to the forefront of his thoughts after the game, and he felt it was the only thing standing between his side and victory. “We had the chances to kill the momentum and the scores didn’t go over the bar, their goal came from a point scoring opportunity we had that didn’t go dead.
“Those are the little things, little nuances, that change games, it’s nothing to do with a bad game plan or anything like that, or a bad system, they were more clinical in front of goal than us today, simple as that.”
Laois almost did snatch a late victory, with Kevin Meaney’s goal in injury time ruled out for a square ball. While the decision was ultimately proved correct in replays shown later, even after the game McNulty felt there were some decisions which favoured Longford. “I think there were a few home town decisions as well during the game, which is something that’s always going to happen in the championship, it’s something you have to deal with, and you have to beat the referee as well.
“I think you have to say fair play to Longford, they have waited a long time for this and they deserve their day in the sun maybe.”
Longford had played all their football in the second half, wiping out Laois’ six point half time lead with an impressive display of point taking. When asked if he felt Laois retreated back into themselves too much in the second half, and left too much space between the half-forward line and the full-forward line, he replied. “No I don’t feel that at all, the chances were created and they were good chances, they just weren’t finished.”
With the amount of possession Laois won at midfield, particularly in the first half when they won possession from 18 of 26 kickouts, they didn’t make enough of the possession they had. Longford appeared to get more joy at midfield in the second half than they had in the first, but McNulty felt that if they did, it was only for a short period. “I’d say that (Longford dominance at midfield) was maybe for a period of five or ten minutes maximum, we dominated the midfield battle throughout the match, if you’re going to measure the midfield performance, our midfield was the dominant midfield in the game.”