GAA Football

Armagh chairman Mickey Savage backing Kieran McGeeney to remain after five-year term ends

Kieran McGeeney's five-year term as Armagh manager expires at the end of this season but county chairman Mickey Savage is keen for the Mullaghbawn man to extend his stay
Andy Watters

ARMAGH County Board chairman Mickey Savage has backed Kieran McGeeney to continue his reign as county manager after his current five-year arrangement comes to an end at the conclusion of the season.

McGeeney was appointed manager at the end of the 2014 season, succeeding Paul Grimley in the role after serving a year as his assistant-manager.

Savage said that McGeeney’s future had not been discussed at county board level but the Mullabawn native will have his support if he is willing to continue as the Orchard County bainisteoir.

“Going forward, I would like to think that Kieran will stay on, that would be my opinion,” said Clady clubman Savage.

“He has put a team in place there now and I think he deserves the chance to get the best out of them.”

After taking over from Grimley in 2014, 2002 All-Ireland-winning skipper McGeeney won Division Three in his first season at the helm but Armagh were relegated the following year and spent two years in the third tier before forcing their way into Division Two in 2018, once again as champions.

This year Armagh were denied wins by late equalisers in their first two League games, against Kildare and Clare, and defeats to Meath and Donegal saw them flirt briefly with relegation before an impressive win against Fermanagh guaranteed their safety with a game to spare.

The Orchardmen won two games and lost three but two of those losses were by a single point and a few scores at crucial points could have seen McGeeney’s side challenge for promotion

Armagh’s campaign was spearheaded by forwards Stefan Campbell, Jamie Clarke and Rian O’Neill, none of whom played the previous year, while Crossmaglen clubmen James Morgan and Oisin O’Neill also returned to the fold and will be available for the Ulster Championship campaign which begins against neighbours Down at Newry’s Pairc Esler on Sunday, May 19.

McGeeney’s lack of success in the provincial Championship has been well documented. On his watch, Armagh have lost to Donegal, Cavan, Down and, last year, Fermanagh, but the Orchardmen recovered impressively from that defeat to progress to the brink of the Super8s before bowing out in one of the games of the season against Roscommon.

Down’s failure to clinch promotion out of Division Three this year means Armagh will travel to Newry as clear favourites and it will be a major surprise if they do not end their losing streak in Ulster with a long-awaited victory.

“Over the past three or four years, Kieran has always been short-handed with players but I think now he has the best players in the county out,” said Savage.

“With injuries last year and boys travelling we were badly hampered but this year we have consolidated our place in Division Two which was very important and, going forward, I’d like to think Kieran would be the man to lead the team on.”

McGeeney, who has Jim McCorry alongside him in the dugout, has not enjoyed a great deal of luck throughout his time in charge but Savage says he has always had the backing of the dressingroom.

“The players are really behind him, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.

“We’re all hoping for another good run in the Championship this summer.”

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