By Shaun Casey
KIERAN Donaghy isn’t expecting a warm welcome this weekend when he’s in the Armagh dugout against All-Ireland champions, and his former side, Kerry on Saturday evening. The Austin Stack’s clubman will know every inch of the Tralee turf and he’ll be hoping that knowledge can help the Orchard County.
They face a wounded animal as Jack O’Connor’s men are coming in off the back of a heavy defeat to Mayo last weekend. And with David Clifford and Sean O’Shea back into the fold, and likely to be in the starting team, it’s an incredibly difficult task for Armagh.
Kieran McGeeney’s side suffered their first defeat of the campaign last weekend, falling to table-toppers Roscommon with three points the difference in the end. After their round two draw with Mayo, thanks to a last gasp Rian O’Neill score, Donaghy admitted his side had a spring in their step.
“There’s a pep in your step every game because there has to be,” said Donaghy. “You have to have that in Division One. If you don’t have a pep in your step coming into a Division One game, then you’re finished. We wanted to come here for two points to get closer to safety, and we came up short.
“The mood after every loss is going to be tough but there’s a lot of good footballers in there and they’ll pick their heads up and get back to work during the week. There’s no point feeling sorry for ourselves, we’ve a big task next week going to Tralee to take on the All-Ireland champions. That’ll be the focus for now on.
“To be honest I didn’t see it (Kerry’s game against Mayo), I had my own basketball game, I was otherwise engaged. I heard the result, and they’ll take a bit of flak around Kerry this week and I’m sure they’ll be very much waiting for Saturday night for a chance of redemption, and we’ll have to be ready for that.”
A win in Roscommon would have put Armagh top of the table but they’ve slipped to fourth place and a loss to the Kingdom could put them into a relegation dogfight.
“We said after last week (against Mayo) that you’re trying to get the five or six points to get to that safe zone and until we’re there we won’t be comfortable,” added the four-time All-Ireland winner.
“Every game is tough, and I know results today have probably clamoured it up but you don’t see this division, this will go to the last day from all points of view. It’s onwards and upwards and just get ready for next week.
“We just didn’t take our chances today; we didn’t execute would be the word that you’d use for it. At this level you have to execute, or you won’t get results, you won’t get wins, especially away from home.”