GAA Football

Too much negativity in Armagh after Ulster defeat: Jim McCorry

Jim McCorry (right) dovetailed well with Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney this year

JIM McCorry has expressed his surprise at the extent of the negativity that engulfed Armagh following their Ulster Championship defeat to Fermanagh in May.

McCorry, a former Armagh manager, was drafted into Kieran McGeeney’s backroom team for the 2018 season as assistant.

Armagh gained promotion out of Division Three but came unstuck in their Ulster Championship opener against Fermanagh.

Similar to last year’s season, the Orchard men found redemption in the Qualifiers.

They narrowly missed out on a place in this season's inaugural Super 8s series after losing a fantastic battle with Roscommon last weekend.

“I think the important thing now is for everybody to reflect on the year,” said McCorry.

“After the Fermanagh defeat people were calling for Geezer’s head and half the team along with him.

“But people forget about the great work that was done in the League and getting into Division Two and the great work that was done to get through those three Qualifier games [against Westmeath, Sligo and Clare].

“To actually miss out on the Super 8s by a fine margin shows the tremendous work that has been done.”

After going down gallantly to Roscommon in Portlaoise last Saturday, McGeeney aimed a broadside at the team’s critics describing them as “f****** useless” for discouraging players declaring for the county team.

McCorry added: “I think it would be very remiss of people not to acknowledge the work that Kieran has done.

“I know there are so-called keyboard warriors who are always against him. You always get people who are very negative, but I know everybody wants Kieran to stay on and continue with the good work. I think it’s important he does that next year.”

McGeeney has completed four years of a five-year term and while he has yet to win a game in Ulster, Armagh’s record in the All-Ireland Qualifiers under his management is hugely impressive.

“Armagh have a great record in the Qualifiers – I think they’re in the top five of all the teams that have played in the Qualifiers. Now, is that down to the fact that you’re not playing Ulster teams?

“Is it because you’re playing a more open brand of football? This year Ulster was very defensive… There are a number of factors but it’s trying to have everybody fit – Fermanagh had everybody available to them.”

McGeeney maintains that had Niall Grimley not been sent off in the early stages of the second half in Brewster Park Armagh could have gone on and won the tie.

But they were also without 2017 Player of the Year Stephen Sheridan and Paul Hughes, arguably their most consistent defender over the last two seasons.

“Considering the guys that were missing – and all for valid reasons and there was no animosity towards any of the players that weren’t there this year – and then we lost the likes of Ethan Rafferty, Paul Hughes was injured, and we lost Aaron McKay just before the Roscommon game, they were big names to be without.

“And Stephen Sheridan was also not long back. He only came back the week before and got 45-50 minutes of him, so it was a big ask for him [against Roscommon].

“He emptied his tank again. But, listen, all teams lose players and you have to deal with it.

“What was encouraging in the Qualifiers was the guys who came on and scored points for us and helped close the games out, and we got a few U20 players on the field against Roscommon [Ryan Owens, Ross McQuillan and Jason Duffy], so that’s all positive looking ahead to next year. I think there has been great work done this year."

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