GAA Football

Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney: There's a good group there and I think they will do something in the future and I'd just love to be about when that happens

Stefan Campbell and Fermanagh's James McMahon battle it our during the final round of Division Two fixtures. Pic Philip Walsh..
Andy Watters

ARMAGH will arguably be the biggest losers if the National Leagues aren’t finished this year. With two games still to be played, the Orchard County are top of Division Two and were heading into the home straight in fine form before the Covid-19 pandemic brought an abrupt halt to proceedings.

Two more wins would have guaranteed the county top flight football for the first time since 2012 and added valuable new layers of experience and confidence to Kieran McGeeney’s promising young squad. Promotion would also have guaranteed Tier One Championship football next year.

GAA President John Horan’s alluded to the fact that the National Leagues won’t be finished this year at the weekend and, speaking on RTE 2FM’s ‘Game On’ programme, Armagh manager McGeeney admitted the current situation was “a bit of a pain in the ass” but asked: “What can you do?”

“For us it would be annoying because we seem to have been going well and we’re stopped now and even if the games were played later in the year, the teams we have left, Roscommon and Clare, will have all their players back that they didn’t have for other games,” he said.

“So you could argue it all sorts of ways but everybody’s in the same boat and you just have to take it on the chin. It’s not great for Armagh and even for the development of the team under my tutelage it is annoying but you have to take it that everything is being done for the good of the people and the health of the people.”

During McGeeney’s time as manager, Armagh have spent three seasons in Division Three but the Orchardmen stabilised in the second tier last year and, despite losing in Laois, have been frontrunners throughout the suspended campaign.

“We have been making steady progress in Armagh over the last number of years,” added McGeeney.

“I think we are playing well at the minute and we are playing an exciting brand of football. The players have bought into it and they are driving it now rather than me, which is great as a manager.

“There are no guarantees that we would have got up there but ultimately Armagh want to be back playing in Division One. They (the players) have the potential to mix it with the best in Division One and when you are up there you learn lessons quicker and harder and you tend to move up the pecking order a wee bit better when you are playing those top teams on a regular basis.”

The Armagh manager added that “we have a really good group at the minute” and there is little doubt that he has assembled a talented squad of players who have produced some scintillating passages of football this season. That challenge for them will be to add consistency to their ability.

“When you come from the North everybody thinks you play a defensive brand of football which I would definitely disagree with,” he said.

“Even when I was with Kildare we liked to play off the front foot, we liked to kick the ball and play a scoring type of game; getting more scores on the board rather than stopping other teams getting scores.

“The boys have really bought into that and we have a good young players coming up. It has taken a while to get them to understand that they are old enough to lead the thing themselves and they don’t have to listen to all the negativity out there. They are playing, I think, a very attractive style of football and one that they enjoy and you can see that in the way they play.

“There’s a good group there and I think they will do something in the future and I’d just love to be about when that happens.”

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GAA Football