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McGeeney: Croker chiefs need to 'tackle' problem area

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Kieran McGeeney, Armagh manager

Kieran McGeeney, Armagh manager

SPORTSFILE

Kieran McGeeney, Armagh manager

ARMAGH manager Kieran McGeeney's influence was written large on his side on Sunday, especially in the area in which McGeeney was one of the greatest exponents: the tackle.

In the pre-game warm-up, Armagh players concentrated for a long period on the tackle, in particular on a method of throwing your opponent off balance before stripping him of the ball with the spare hand.

As a method, it is within the laws of the game, yet the free count against Armagh was alarming. McGeeney feels that the failure of the GAA to outline clear guidelines on the tackle is hurting the game, and it is hard to make a case against his argument. "That is still going to haunt the GAA," the 2002 All-Ireland winning captain said.

"We have black cards, yellow cards, orange and pink ones. We will look at the symptoms the whole time and try and get them every week. Until someone looks at the actual cause of it - which is our tackling - then nothing is going to change."

Sympathy

He expressed sympathy for match-day officials who are stuck in the middle, continuing: "Referees, they are going to have a hard job. They are always going on what they believe and they are trying to be objective about it.

"But I thought rules were there to be implemented. They tell us if the rules were to be implemented, there would be a free every ten seconds. So why have rules? Why not go out and if you like a physical game, then let's have it."

He added: "For years, Tyrone perfected getting in around the ball and putting in loads of tackles. And now it's a free kick. There is no such free for having loads of men around though there's no such rule when men are tackling the ball with an open hand. It's a legitimate tackle.

"If you surround a man now with three or four players, it's a free. Even though it doesn't exist."

Another interesting development was the deployment of Jamie Clarke. Playing in a withdrawn role, after his introduction at half-time, he ghosted into the forward line several times to dangerous effect.

Asked to outline the reasons for Clarke's novel stationing, McGeeney replied: "It just gives him a different set of skills, an understanding of how the ball is going to come in. As well as that, to be honest he is one of our best tacklers.

"He is very good, he's good on the ball, he's good at distributing the ball. So, we said we would have a look at him there and he did well. He did very well in fact."

On Sunday, Armagh are at Creggan for their only away game against Antrim. The Orchard County will be gunning for a win to try and make it into the semi-finals as the best runners-up.

Irish Independent