GAA Football

Former players need to swallow their egos says Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney

Kieran McGeeney has taken his Armagh side to the brink of promotion this season
Andy Watters

THE former player who try to recreate their playing days in Gaelic Football should swallow their “egos” says Kieran McGeeney.

Warning that “nostalgia can be a great thing” the Armagh manager cautioned against retired footballers calling for changes to counteract the trends of the modern game.

“Football doesn’t really invent anything new apart from when people probably try to remember themselves in their glory days,” he said.

“There’s a lot of ego out there from past players and sometimes they’d be better swallowing a bit of it.”

This season the ‘mark’ has been introduced to encourage what some see as the fading art of high-catching at midfield and further rule changes to discourage short kick-outs are in the offing. McGeeney, who began his inter-county career with Armagh in the early 1990s, said the game back then is often viewed through rose-tinted glasses.

“There’s a lot of things people don’t remember,” he said.

“They all think we had super forwards in the 1970s and ’80s and they never played in 5-4 games or any of that. Nostalgia can be a great thing.”

The Orchard county manager is more concerned with the future than the past and, despite four wins on-the-trot, his side need to draw with Tipperary on Sunday to clinch promotion to Division Two.

“It’s tight,” he said as he looked ahead to that game.

“Tipp are a tough, physical, aggressive team and I think that’s the way football should be played. They have talent up front as well with big men, good targetmen and they’ve done really well.”

McGeeney came up against Tipp in his first game as Armagh manager when it took a Jamie Clarke-inspired late rally to get the Orchardmen over the line by a point.

“We’ll go out like we do in every game and try our best to win it,” he said.

“In fairness I’ve been happy since the O’Fiaich Cup that the fellas have put in a good shift in every game bar the Laois game, when we just seemed to want to self-destruct.

“We want to get some sort of momentum and try and push that on for the summer. You could win three National Leagues and people would still call you a gobshite.”

Midfielder Stephen Sheridan is suspended for the clash with Tipp after he was red-carded late on against Antrim. McGeeney is also without several injured players but he hopes to have them back for the June 4 Ulster Championship clash with Down.

“We hope that Joe McElroy and Andy Murnin will be back and Kevin Dyas as well,” he said.

“Ethan Rafferty has to recover from his shoulder problem too but it was great to get Ciaron O’Hanlon a bit of game-time tonight.

“There will definitely be a push for places and we have tried our best to be a wee bit sparing with the U21s as well – Ciaron is just coming back from injury as is Ryan Owens. Ben (Crealey) and Oisin (O’Neill) are probably getting less time than they would normally get because of the U21 game (versus Derry tonight).”

When fit Murnin, O’Neill, Dyas and O’Hanlon would all be pushing for spots in Armagh’s attack. The surprise addition to that unit this season has been veteran defender Ciaran McKeever who has flourished in his new role.

“He’s a good ball-winner, he’s smart and the way the game has gone sometimes smart will out-do pace,” said McGeeney.

“The runs have to be good, especially when there’s a lot of men back behind the ball you have to be smart in where you run because you’re not always running to get the ball and that’s very hard for some players to do.

“You still have to be strong to win the ball in there and he’s doing a lot of scoring which is the first thing for anybody in the inside line.

“That’s 2-2 in two games and he scored 1-1 against Derry in the O’Fiaich Cup as well. He’s putting them in.”

GAA Football

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