GAA Football

Toughest tests will bring out the best in Armagh: Paul Grimley

Former Armagh boss Paul Grimley (above) has backed under-fire manager Kieran McGeeney (below)

FORMER manager Paul Grimley insists everyone will see the “best of Armagh” in their three remaining NFL fixtures as they try to save themselves from relegation.

The vastly experienced Pearse Og man also backed manager Kieran McGeeney to get things right after Armagh suffered a shock 17-point hammering at the hands of Cavan last weekend.

After losing three of their opening four games, the Orchard men are rooted to the bottom of Division Two and have arguably the toughest series of fixtures to come in Galway, Tyrone and Derry.

But Grimley, who had ‘Geezer’ as his Armagh assistant in 2014, is still confident the tide will turn for the better: “People will obviously regard Armagh’s last three games [against Galway, Tyrone and Derry] as their hardest games, and that’s true,” said Grimley.

“But, in my experiences being involved with Armagh over the years, these situations bring out the best in Armagh. I think you’ll see the best of Armagh over the next three games.”

Promotion hopefuls Galway visit The Athletic Grounds on Sunday. Last summer, the Tribesmen came to the Cathedral City and dismissed Armagh from the Championship, and Kevin Walsh’s men will be heavily favoured again to heap more misery on their hosts this weekend.

“It’s a difficult game, surely. I believe before I can see whereas others have to see before they believe,” said the 2002 All-Ireland winning coach.

“I believe things will turn for Armagh. Galway are a great footballing county and they’ve a great man in charge of them in Kevin Walsh. But I don’t think it’s beyond Armagh of getting a result on Sunday. Another two points might be enough to keep them in the division. They’re well capable of getting a lot more.”

Grimley worked with McGeeney during his playing days with Armagh and assisted him in Kildare for a couple of seasons. The pair linked up with their native county in 2014 and reached the All-Ireland quarter-finals. After their narrow loss to Donagal at Croke Park, Grimley stepped down and made way for McGeeney to take the reins.

“The Armagh job is the best job in the world - and the present man in charge is the best man for the job,” said Grimley.

“There’s a good set-up at senior level, a good set-up and U21 and minor and there’s a good, solid county board in place and we’ve good men behind the scenes trying to raise finances. This will turn for Armagh. We’re going through a tough time but there’s nobody working harder than the players and the management team.”

McGeeney accepted responsibility for last weekend’s heavy defeat to Cavan, although Grimley noted the amount relative newcomers to the inter-county scene. Of last weekend’s starting team Matthew McNeice, Sean Connell, Shea Heffron, Stephen Sheridan, Niall Grimley, Ciaran O’Hanlon, Colm Watters and Micael McKenna haven’t played a lot of senior inter-county football.

“It shows the [poor] level of analysis of the team. They haven’t done their research now. You just feel that some people are putting the boot in now because of Kieran and they’re using that to whip the team. What other county do you get that? We’ve got the best man for the job.”

Grimley hasn’t attended any of Armagh’s games this season as he has become disillusioned with a small minority of fans who abuse the team from the stands: “I was sickened by the reaction of some people,” he said.

“I call it ‘sport rage’. Some of it is personal and you find some of these people like to stand up in all-seated stands to be seen and heard. And that’s what they want. Last year, I had to go away to the back of the stand to get away from it.”

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