GAA Football

Kieran McGeeney happy with Armagh win 'but still plenty to work on'

Armagh's Jarlath Og Burns action against St Mary's Stephen McConville in the Dr McKenna Cup clash in Crossmaglen yesterday, Sunday December 16 2018. Picture by Bill Smyth
Elaine Ingram

The first competitive game of the season might not have been much of a test for Armagh and manager Kieran McGeeney acknowledged as much, but he says his playing philosophy that showed plenty of cohesion, teamwork and continual effort to get ball the forward at speed, hasn’t changed from last year.

“I suppose from our point of view I think that’s the way we were trying to play last year, and we’ve been trying to play like that every year, it just depends on who you have with you,'' said the Orchard County boss.

“When you come up against teams that play like the likes of Fermanagh and St Mary’s, who play a similar brand of football, that’s hard to break down but it’s an effective game we play and it works well at different times.

“St Mary’s weren’t the strongest today though, so I wouldn’t read too much into it,” said McGeeney who felt that the new rules had little impact on the game but agrees that the hand passing rule is the main focus for players, managers and pundits alike.

“Anything that creates a change of focus, it doesn’t matter what it is, you home in on it,'' he added.

“The hand pass is what everyone across the game is talking about. It’s only one of the five rules but it’s because it’s what everyone says is ruining the game.

“But it was ruining the game in the Seventies and the Fifties and the Thirties,” he shrugged.

Read more: Armagh flatten St Mary's in McKenna Cup opener

While there was little to learn from Sunday’s game, looking ahead to Antrim and Monaghan before the National League begins, McGeeney relishes getting stuck in against tougher competition.

“There will be bigger and stronger tests and after Christmas we’ll be having different conversations,'' he continued.

“We scored well today. We lost a wee bit of pace in the second half but there seems to be a push on. We’ve been working on that for a while,” he said.

“Antrim will give us a good test and Monaghan are All-Ireland semi-finalists so no matter what team they put out will be good.

“We’re looking forward to it, but we need a strong test because we start off with Kildare in the National League and it seems every game after that is tough.

“Ourselves and Fermanagh went up, and we’d be sort of on a par, but then you have the likes of Meath, Cork Tipperary, Clare and Donegal, who have some serious squads in there.

“It will be a tough hunting ground for us but that’s what we want and where we need to be.

“We’re trying to create new competition for places. We have a few players back in.

“A few have been travelling and are just coming back in now training and some of the more experienced players aren’t doing too much at this time of year as we’re trying to give them a break.

“But, it’s like everything else, your panel can look strong today then you play another team and it might not look so strong.

“So, we’re happy with the way we played and we put up a good score but we still have plenty to work on.”

Read more: Armagh flatten St Mary's in McKenna Cup opener

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