big blow | 

Tyrone boss Feargal Logan says loss to Armagh ‘was the story of our year’

Tyrone managers Feargal Logan (left) and Brian Dooher watch their team's defeat to Armagh. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Frank Roche

Tyrone’s All-Ireland title defence came to a crushing end in Armagh yesterday, with joint-manager Feargal Logan conceding their latest performance summed up their season.

Even the early tonic of a third-minute goal from Conor McKenna couldn’t ignite the Sam Maguire holders, who eventually lost by six points.

Armagh, who advance to round two of the SFC qualifiers next weekend, would not have been flattered by a double-digit margin.

Afterwards, Logan accepted Tyrone had been “chasing it” after Aidan Nugent’s 15th minute goal, adding: “Once you are chasing it, it is very hard. That was the story of the day, maybe it was the story of the year.”

Logan insisted his players were “trying hard” throughout and was still grappling to understand why they couldn’t emulate last year’s levels.

“It’s a very intangible and difficult thing, in terms of focus and hunger,” he said. “We thought we would kick-start some day and thought today could be the day. But it didn’t.

“That’s our issue to live with now. Dealing with success, it’s not easy and we saw it all year really. We will just have to review it and see if there is something we can identify.”

For Armagh, the joy that accompanied the most significant SFC victory of Kieran McGeeney’s eight-year reign was tempered by a late injury for sub Connaire Mackin, who needed oxygen as he was stretchered off after a shuddering collision.

There were hopes last night that the damage to Mackin isn’t too serious, and Armagh coach Kieran Donaghy paid warm tribute to the player, as well as Niall Grimley, who was ruled out for the season before yesterday’s 1-16 to 1-10 triumph.

“Niall has been a warhorse for this team. He got a bad neck injury and had to stay at home and watch this game from his couch,” said Donaghy.

“A special shout out to him on his road to recovery – and Connaire Mackin. The Mackins are an incredible family, Ciaran Mackin has been one of our players of the year, up until he got a bad injury.

“When we received the injury to Niall during the week, we were looking at Connaire as that kind of impact around the middle. He came on and was absolutely heroic, going forward and setting up scores, and he cleared a massive ball off the line.

“Michael McKernan came to our dressing room afterwards to enquire about him, so pure class from him,” revealed Donaghy, who also acknowledged the organised round of applause in the 27th minute, from all corners of the Athletic Grounds, in solidarity with the McAreavey and Harte families.

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