Kernan will look for fault lines

 

National Football League Division One Final: This result focused onlookers' minds regarding the current pecking order. In short, it hasn't changed much. Wexford arrived at Croke Park with grand designs but couldn't cope with Armagh's intensity. Add hunger and Steven McDonnell to that list as well.

Joe Kernan was the only person from Armagh not to enjoy the master class. He told us he never enjoys it. Not even a little bit?

"I am never comfortable until the final whistle goes, to be honest. When you are on the sideline you don't know what it looks like. There were some great passages of play but until we sit down and look at the video . . . I'm sure we will find a few faults along the way.

"It's nice to win trophies. It's nice to win national titles. For a team that has never won one before it's great. It will probably sink in tomorrow."

Immediately they switch focus to revenge for what Fermanagh did to them last year. A big factor in blowing Wexford out of the water was that Armagh are further down the road in championship preparation. Fermanagh are up on May 15th, while Pat Roe's team are not out against Carlow until June 5th.

"It's nice to play well and win, which we did today," continued Kernan. "But as they say, the league is over. We'll enjoy tonight and tomorrow morning but then it's countdown to the championship. As you all know, Ulster is a minefield and we are right in the middle of it now."

In reality, Armagh hold all the detonators this time, they being the ones waiting in the long grass. Fermanagh manager Charlie Mulgrew may have been wincing at the 10-point display McDonnell produced or, on a boarder scale, the 16 points the full-forward line produced.

Yet, it's always been defence that gets teams out of Ulster. This Kernan knows: "But our defence was magnificent today too. Andy Mallon. What a player, a real tenacious young lad. And Francie at full back - all the referees love him."

This was a thinly veiled reference to the first-half hit on David Fogarty that referee Gerry Kinneavy deemed legitimate.

What really satisfied Kernan though was the manner in which the new recruits off the back of last year's under-21 All-Ireland-winning team have blended in.

"Every county, hurling and football, that wins anything - there's new faces that have to come in. The ones that have come in have done well for us. It just means there is pressure on everyone. If you are sitting in a comfort zone you don't get the best off your people. Hopefully, as seen today, we got the best out of them."

Sticking with the championship theme, Matty Forde - whose influence was curtailed by Mallon, then Kieran McGeeney - was asked how detrimental this heavy beating is to Wexford preparations.

"Victory today would have put us a lot further up the ladder than a defeat but we are in no uncertain terms what we have to do for the championship. We still have a long way to go. A lot of our supporters coming up here today were brilliant again and believed we were in with a shout. We believed we would win today but I don't think it's a disaster.

"We didn't perform in the first half and that's what cost us. We didn't get the breaks maybe we deserved around the middle third of the field. Our midfield probably performed better than it did all year but we weren't picking up on the breaking ball.

"They had us on the back foot from the off. It was always going to be difficult against a team who are at championship level, championship pace.

"Beating them in the league left them lacking no motivation coming in."