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No Orchard 'slaves'

ON the contrary, Kieran McGeeney says, Armagh are one of the less frequently trained inter-county teams in Ireland.

The most common perception couldn't be any more different though, something of which he is aware of and has endeavoured to directly address.

There were recently-published stories of his squad completing a dozen sessions in a week, including the now customary 6am starts.

"I've talked to the people who wrote them and gave them our training schedule but a lot of people just aren't interested in the truth," he shrugged yesterday in Croke Park at the launch of this year's Allianz Football League.

schedule

"I can't put it any plainer than that. I showed them our exact training schedule.

"It's very hard to lie when there's 40 people there so that's it.

"To say that we're training ten times a week; at six in the morning, and then two games at the weekend - 12 times a week.

"The reality is that we're training three or four times a week and that's it, there wouldn't be any more than that, gym sessions.

"There wouldn't be any more than three hours' contact time. Of all the teams in Ireland, I would say that we were probably doing the least.

"They work hard but it's a very small amount of contact times," he pointed out.

"The more you tell people the truth, the less they want to print it."

The alleged week-of-12-sessions, McGeeney explains, included both an Armagh team Christmas party and the wedding of Charlie Vernon.

"So we probably did more drinking that week that training," he adds.

The rumors do, however, fit neatly into the hidden narrative of Joe Brolly's recent "indentured slaves" barb and would served as a neat explaination for the relatively early retirements of players like Aaron Kernan and goalkeeper Philly McEvoy, who announced his decision only yesterday. Yet referring to their fractious McKenna Cup opener against Tyrone and the coverage thereof, Kevin Dyas insisted recently that there existed a "fascination" with trying to "have a pop" at Armagh and McGeeney.

Then there's McGeeney's own reputation as both a ferocious competitor and addicted trainer, a charge he doesn't deny.

dour

"People made it out that I had a dour existence, but I think it was them who had the dour existence," he said.

"Because there was no passion, or love, for what they were doing. If they didn't want to be there, go home. I loved it. I couldn't wait to get to training.

"We had good times. It was a big part of my life, I loved it.

"People were training at six in the morning 20 years ago.

"But the people who are over the fitness of teams now know what they're at. They really do.

"I know when I was training there was a cone in the corner, with the one light from the club house, and I'd spend half an hour running around that pitch. It used to be demoralising.

"We were training four nights a week, like that.

"And there was talk back then of even top class managers training 28 days on the trot," McGeeney added. "And there was no one giving out about it then.

"They were winning All-Irelands (so) that was correct then."


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