GAA Football

Armagh will take no notice of Joe Brolly comments says Finnian Moriarty

Finnian Moriarty says Kieran McGeeney "is a good man manager"
Andy Watters

ARMAGH’S players will take little notice of Joe Brolly’s no-holds-barred opinion piece on their manager Kieran McGeeney says Finnian Moriarty.

Former Derry star Brolly, now an influential newspaper columnist and RTE pundit, claimed last weekend that “deep down” McGeeney thought his players “were shit”. He claimed that opinion filtered through to the players, causing them to believe it and perform accordingly.

But Moriarty, who played alongside ‘Geezer’ and for him during his final two years as an inter-county footballer (he retired at the end of last season), disagrees. He says Brolly was “foolish” to think his personal dealings with McGeeney - the pair were team-mates in QUB's Sigerson Cup team at one stage - “mirror how he deals with his players”.

Moriarty described the Orchard county bainisteoir as a “good man manager”, who “tries to help his players improve individually and collectively”: “For someone who says he wants to promote the game and all that is good about the GAA in general, isn’t it misplaced of Joe to suggest that a group of inter-county players are shit?” he asked.

“How does that make the players feel? What impact would that have on the families of those players?”

In his column, Brolly claimed McGeeney’s attitude towards his players stemmed from an “intolerance of losers”, a trait he said he shares with former Ipswich Town and Sunderland manager Roy Keane.

Moriarty, an Ulster Championship winner in 2008, said: “Kieran doesn’t welcome defeat, nobody who has achieved what he has in Gaelic football, or high achievers from any other sport for that matter, does.

“Armagh have unquestionably underperformed in some of the situations Joe notes in his article but, in 2014, Kieran had a huge role in reversing the fortunes of the previous season and improving Armagh’s style of play. Armagh got to an All-Ireland quarter-final, but that doesn’t seem to suit Joe’s story.”

In 2014, with McGeeney working as assistant to manager Paul Grimley, Armagh were relegated to Division Three and then embarked on that unexpected run in the Qualifiers, bowing out in the last-eight after defeat to Donegal by a single point.

After winning Division Three last season, expectations among fans were high, but Championship performances were poor and the Orchard men were demoted back to the third tier this year.

Relegation was sealed on the final day, despite Armagh’s emphatic win over Derry that was probably the best performance in McGeeney’s time in charge. It had been preceded by draws against Galway and Tyrone, but the damage had been done by the 17-point defeat to Cavan and, after it, McGeeney told reporters he accepted total responsibility for the performance.

“I believe we have good footballers - I just mustn’t be doing the right things with them,” he said.

“They are good lads, good players, so I have to go back and see what I’m doing. I have to take it on the chin. It’s not easy… I have to say, it’s me that has to look at it, not them.”

Moriarty also took issue with Brolly’s claim resources had been “lavished” on the Armagh panel. The Wolfe Tone’s clubman says the resources available to Armagh are no greater than any other county’s.

“Armagh have undoubtedly approached their preparation as professionally as they possibly can, within the parameters of an amateur game,” said Moriarty.

“But every county does so nowadays, every single county. Joe likes to reminisce back to the times when lads would train a couple of times a week, have a few pints together and give it a go on the Sunday. It’s totally unrealistic to believe that would work nowadays.”

He added: “Kieran will know that Armagh haven’t played well for parts of the league and in the Championship last season, but there have been signs of stark improvement recently.”

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

GAA Football