Monday 17 June 2019

'They're very easy on the eye"- Why Armagh have a strong chance of making the Super 8's

Jamie Clarke.
Jamie Clarke.

John Morley

In probably the most dramatic game of the weekend, Down and Armagh treated us to an extra time feast of high-scoring football, with the Orchard county just holding out for the win despite the Mourne men's best efforts.

Armagh had to wait a long time for their Ulster semi-final berth under Kieran McGeeney and will fancy their chances of making an Ulster final when they take on Cavan in the last four of the province, which could potentially lead to a spot in the Super 8's.

Traditionally teams under McGeeney are perceived to be defensive in nature, but GAA reporter Michael Verney believes the Armagh team play a wonderful brand of attacking football.

"You mightn't think it and people mightn't think it from [McGeeny's] reputation, but they play a brand of football that's very easy to watch, they're very easy on the eye," said Verney on The Throw-In podcast, in association with Bord Gáis Energy.

Herald GAA reporter Conor McKeon agreed with Verney's observation, pointing out the Orchard county's defence as the area of the pitch where they are most lacking.

"Their problem isn't up front at all, their problem is actually in defence, which if you envision a Kieran McGeeney managed team, and it was the same problem with Kildare, Kildare were a very free scoring side," said McKeon.

With Armagh avoiding Donegal and Tyrone on the way to a possible Ulster final, McKeon gives the young side a great chance of making the showpiece, believing it is in their interest to avoid the qualifiers.

"I think it will do them no harm to avoid the angst of the qualifiers, because all of a sudden things get very, very serious when you lose in the first round.

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"Given the half of the draw they are in, you wouldn't necessarily back against them going further again," said McKeon.

Verney spoke with awe of the forward prowess at Kieran McGeeney's disposal, calling Crossmaglen footballer Jamie Clarke a 'joy to watch' and praised the firepower of their bench.

"It's great to see Jamie Clarke back kicking county football, he literally is a joy to watch. Every time he gets the ball you think he's going to do something special with it," Verney said.

"They have Stefan Campbell back as well and Andrew Murnin, who hadn't played throughout the league at all, I think he got 1-1, they have a decent squad."

McKeon was impressed by Armagh's young contingent, with Jarly Og Burns and Rian O'Neill particularly impressive.

"Rian O'Neill made his championship debut and he scroed eight points, four of them from play. Jarly Og Burns, Jarlath Burn's young fellow, who didn't play a whole pile during the league because of Sigerson and he had a slight injury, he played around the middle of the park, so they'll grow into it."

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