Saturday 24 June 2017

O'Rourke looks to upset odds

Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

ARMAGH manager Paddy O'Rourke would love to upset the bookies who made his team joint-favourites with Laois for relegation from Division 1.

O'Rourke's side -- missing the Crossmaglen players, who face an All-Ireland club semi-final later this month, and Stevie McDonnell, who is not at full fitness yet -- got a home point against Division 1 champions Cork on Sunday.

It doesn't look any easier for Armagh this week, with a trip to Tralee to in-form Kerry -- but O'Rourke won't panic.

"It's still a long road. Whatever the bookies want to do is fine, but we intend to be playing Division 1 football again next year," he said. "We're going to do everything we can to make sure that happens, and we also intend to build a very solid team for the championship.

"Cork coming here for our first game was a tough one. To get something out of it is good."

The Armagh boss watched Kerry defeat Dublin and knows the Kingdom will be looking to build momentum in the league -- but hopes his young players will have taken confidence from the Cork game.

"Kerry looked very impressive. If we grow a bit from this one, and I'm sure we will, we'll go down there and enjoy it. We'll take them on," said O'Rourke.

The Down native knows his newbies -- he gave five players a league debut in the starting line-up -- had a baptism of fire against the Rebels.

"This is a very young team -- we finished with five U-21s in the forward lines and one in the backs, so six U-21s finished that game," he said.

"That's a big percentage of young players. Some of those players are only 19 and 20 and sometimes when you have players that young, the occasion can get to them a wee bit. It didn't get to the likes of Ciaran McKeever or Malachy Mackin, who have been around a while.

"That's what playing at this level means -- and the only way you can turn them into inter-county players is by playing them."

Irish Independent

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