Kieran McGeeney at the Donegal game Picture: Sportsfile
It was a case of disappointment, but not necessarily dejection as Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney reflected on the wafer-thin margins that separate victory from defeat.
Armagh were looking at promotion right up until the fourth minute of injury time.
“It was so close and yet so far and one of those things where we just could not get the kickouts in those final moments.
“This was very apparent in the last quarter, and we gave away three scores from those last three kick-outs.
“It is disappointing, but I could not ask for more as the boys gave everything.
“You had two pretty well decimated teams and we had most of the defence missing from last year they still went out and played with their heart on their sleeves.”
He added: “It was the little things that killed us and after we got the goal the advantage rule came into play, and it worked well for Donegal, and it did not work so well for us.
“But those are the breaks.
“It was the same against Tyrone as we had the game in our grasp, but little things like a ball coming off the post and Donegal were getting their scores from distance.
“I am still very proud of the fellows as they gave me everything despite all the injuries.
“I suppose Donegal could say the same.”
But he admitted that not making the semi-finals was a big downer.
“We had our hearts set on making the semi-finals but that is gone, and we now have to face into a relegation play-off.
“I was happy with the way we attacked for most of the game, but it was the small things.
“It was an opportunity missed.
“We have been playing against what we are being told are the third and fourth best teams in the country.
“We have shown we can live with that if not more, but we need to tidy up the small mistakes.”
He added: “Our injuries are healing slowly but it is very important that we go out and get a victory against Roscommon the next day.
“It is all about having the composure to take all those chances.
“We have been pushing hard to get things right and we are very close, but we just have to learn how to win battles like this.
“As the stakes go up, you have to be able to make those split decisions much better.
“I just hope the boys do themselves justice in the next few games.
“We are operating about 60 per cent and there is a lot more in these lads.
“They are young keen and in great condition and I would just love to see them cut loose some day and hopefully we will see that before the end of the summer.
“I just know there is a lot more in these lads.”
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