Armagh defender Conor O’Neill likely to miss rest of the season after rupturing Achilles in victory over Westmeath

Kieran McGeeney hoping to have Rian O’Neill available for round two clash with Derry at Celtic Park

Conor O'Neill was solid in the Armagh defence. Picture: Philip Walsh
Conor O'Neill ruptured his Achilles Tendon in the first half against Westmeath. Picture: Philip Walsh

ARMAGH wing-back Conor O’Neill is likely to miss the rest of the season after he ruptured his Achilles Tendon in the first half of the Orchard County’s 0-16 to 0-11 win over Westmeath.

After missing the second half of Armagh’s League campaign with injury, Killeavy clubman O’Neill returned to the starting line-up for the Athletic Grounds clash. Looking full of running, he had got forward to score a point before he broke down and was stretchered off after 26 minutes.

“Losing Conor – he has ruptured his Achilles – that’s a big blow,” said manager Kieran McGeeney afterwards.

Rian O'Neill in action for Armagh.
Kieran McGeeney hopes to have Rian O'Neill available when Armagh play Derry next Sunday

“He has only come back. We got a lot of knocks and bangs, there was a couple of big hits but that’s the way these things go.

“Andrew (Murnin) was hit hard and the ball was already away but that’s sport, I suppose you have to put up with these things.”

Armagh were without Rian O’Neill (calf injury) against the Midlanders but McGeeney is hoping to have the Crossmaglen clubman available for next weekend’s clash with Derry at Celtic Park.

“Rian took a knock on his calf last week and he just couldn’t get going at all so it wasn’t worth the risk for us,” said the Armagh manager.

“He is a serious individual – like the Mackins and the (tough) people of this world he tends to play through hard knocks. You try to get him to understand that he’s human. He pushed himself to the limit against Donegal (Ulster final) but it was probably too much and we should have had him off a wee bit earlier.

“He played against Down but the Donegal game was a different kind of pace. I’m hoping he’ll be there (in Derry).”

O’Neill may return for the Oak Leaf Ulster derby but his clubmate James Morgan – who hasn’t featured for Armagh at all this season – is still some way off full fitness.

“He’s had a series of unlucky breaks,” said McGeeney.

“Like Rian he’s a tough man and he wants to get back and he pushes himself too hard at times and he breaks down. It’s not for the want or desire to get back. Sometimes when you’re that type of character you have to put the reins on him but we’re hoping you’ll see him but it’ll be a long journey for him, he’s not back really full running yet.”