GAA Football

Aidan Forker is a class act: Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney

Aidan Forker has excelled in Armagh's full-back line

ARMAGH boss Kieran McGeeney has described Aidan Forker as a “class act” after delivering another defensive master-class in the Orchard full-back line at the weekend.

The Maghery clubman has been a reluctant full-back since ‘Geezer’ moved him there in the second half of Armagh’s memorable All-Ireland Qualifier clash with Roscommon in 2018.

Forker remained Armagh’s defensive go-to man in 2019 when he did brilliant containing jobs on the likes of Cavan’s Marty Reilly and Monaghan’s Conor McManus.

While Armagh attackers Rian O’Neill, Stefan Campbell and Aidan Nugent caught the eye in their handsome six-point win over Kildare at The Athletic Grounds last Saturday night, Forker handled the significant threat of Daniel Flynn with aplomb.

“I think he’s a class act,” McGeeney said of Forker.

“He wasn’t even mentioned in the Ulster Select last year. People watch a different game. I suppose that’s part and parcel of the game too: the people who score get most of the glory; people who stop the scores don’t.

“Aidan’s natural position is probably full-forward. He’s an out-and-out striker, he’s a fantastic forward. He showed that against Roscommon two years ago and at half-time we switched him to full-back and he took their best player out of it. So, unfortunately for him he was good at full-back too.”

Regarded as one of the most complete forwards in the modern game, Flynn could never get free of Forker in a dominant first half from Armagh.

Flynn’s 56th point was his only contribution on the scoreboard as 14-man Armagh eased over the line to bank their second win out of three in Division Two.

McGeeney added: “It’s not where Aidan likes playing. From one, two, three and four, you have to pity them because if they make one mistake they got a lot of abuse. I think it’s where your character is made – in that line. Whether it’s Conor O’Neill or James Morgan or Blaine [Hughes], they put their name on the line every time they play.

“I thought Aidan had a great game. To me, he was up against one of the most outstanding athletes in Daniel [Flynn]. If he gets an inch he’ll destroy you. Aidan did pretty well on him. I think he got a point off him. He’s a hard one to handle.”

If Forker’s man-marking role made a significant contribution to Armagh’s win, so too did the never-say-die attitude of Stephen Sheridan who was perpetual motion against the Lilywhites at centre half-back

“He gives his all – that’s one thing I’ll say about Stephen Sheridan,” said the Armagh manager.

“There were a good few that did that, and that was asked for. We were playing against a really top class footballing side. Remember they’ve been in the top eight two of the last five years.”

Armagh certainly bounced back from their meek display in Laois a week earlier, with McGeeney describing the Allianz Leagues as the jewel in the GAA’s crown.

“The way the League is. It’s coming at you. It’s easy to slip and if you don’t get back up it can really hammer you. The Leagues are our best structure at the minute. Some of our games are top class. It really is a good indication of your team and it gives you a good chance to bounce back fairly quickly, and in fairness to our boys they did that against Kildare.”

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