Sports

Grugan - Armagh on right path

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Grugan - Armagh on right path thumbnailRory Grugan kicked Armagh’s late, late winner to send his side to the top of Division Three of the Allianz National Football League.

ARMAGH captain Rory Grugan kicked the pressure point to win Sunday's tense encounter against Longford and feels that by scraping victory his side are starting to mature.

It was a frantic final few minutes in the Athletic Grounds as the ball was patiently or frustration moved from player to player before the Ballymacnab seized his chance in the dying seconds.

"It is a bit of a smash and grab if I am honest with you but it is nice to come away with a win when we didn't play so well," said Grugan.

"We knew coming in just how well Longford had been playing and that is how they proved to be when they went three points up at half-time and then went ahead again with the penalty to go four points up.

"We looked to be really up against it but to be fair Ethan [Rafferty] stepped up and got us a goal that give us momentum and lifted the crowd and at that stage we were hoping just to get one last shot where we could maybe steal it in stoppage time and luckily it went over."

Grugan readily admits that his shooting was awry on Sunday but he had no hesitancy about going for the winner.

"We were trying to hold out because at that stage they were obviously with a man less and they had everyone behind the ball trying not to concede a winner," Grugan said.

" It was just when the ball came to me I had man on my outside and they maybe thought I was going to give it out and I dummied in and just swung a leg at it really, with the outside of my boot and it dropped over nicely.

"I was just talking to our stats man and my conversion rate was very low so it was nice to kick that one in the end after missing my fair share few before that."

Indeed it took nerves of steel to take such an important shot but the primary school teacher modestly explained that he hadn't time to think about the shot, therefore he felt less pressure.

"Probably with the free-kicks I was taking too much time to think about it, with the wind and different things and it just wasn't going for me today, but with that shot I just had to snatch at it and "I didn't have too much time to think about it and maybe that was why [he scored]."

Sunday's win was a hard fought battle and the type of of contest Armagh typically would have lost or drawn in recent years so to get over the proverbial line was particularly pleasing for the Orchard captain.

"We have been involved in good games and played well and come out the wrong side of it," said Grugan.

"I can think of Tipperary and the Galway game only a few years ago here in the Athletic Grounds and maybe it is a sign that we are maturing slightly as team.

"Where we can maybe not play well and grind it out. There is no use in racking up big scores and then losing the game and being gallant losers. We really wanted to make a push and try and get those first few wins in the division.

"And we have put ourselves in a good position now leading into the second part of the League."

Armagh top the Division Three table, although Fermanagh can join them if they overcome Fermanagh when the postponed game is played.

The Orchard men have a break next weekend and then travel to Offaly the following week and after that they face Derry, Fermanagh and Wexford. Promotion to Division Two is the carrot and Grugan is happy with the position his side are in.

"If someone had offered us three wins out of three at the start which including going away to Mullingar and facing Longford who had two good wins, we would have bitten their hand off," Grugan said.

"It is where we want to be and you can see after today we know where we have to improve. And we are in a good place now but it is up to us to keep going.

"The sooner we can guarantee our promotion the better because that has always been our target, to get promotion to Division Two, so we are on the right path anyway."

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