Grugan gives league finals green light

By Shaun Casey

RORY Grugan can see both sides of the argument but the lure of a day out in Croke Park with the chance to win silverware in a national final is why the Armagh playmaker has backed league finals to remain in a congested calendar.

Grugan was part of previous Armagh teams that captured the Division Three league titles in 2015 and 2018 and climbed the steps of the Hogan Stand as captain of Kieran McGeeney’s side in 2018.

But this time they’re chasing the Division Two crown, which they last won in 2010 and with promotion to the top tier already secured, finishing the campaign with a trophy is now the goal for the Orchard County.

“I understand the arguments to an extent as an outsider but for players it’s just the best thing to be going to Croke Park to play in a national final, trying to win a trophy,” said Grugan, speaking after Armagh’s 2-16 each draw with Cork in the final round of the league.

“Those days are few and far between for players and especially for the likes of us older boys, you don’t get many more chances to do that. I’ve never won a Division Two title, it’s something I’d like to go and try to win.

“There’s no better preparation for the Ulster Championship than going down and playing in Croke Park, where you want to be against a really good Donegal side who have finished top.

“ I know that the thing is condensed and there’s, the debate about league finals, but certainly for Division Two teams, you’ve achieved your promotion and you want to go and get a reward of a trophy in Croke Park.

“You start out at the start of the year with three competitions outside of the preseason stuff that you can win, so any day you’re lifting a trophy is Croke Park would certainly be a good day so that’s what we’re going to try and do.”

Armagh have been spoiled with big days out on Jones’ Road over the past few seasons, but with little success so far. Back-to-back All-Ireland quarter-final defeats, to Galway and Monaghan, both after penalties, have been the most recent outings.

Jim McGuinness’ Donegal stand in Armagh’s way, and they are an opposition that Grugan is fairly familiar with having come up against them numerous times since making his inter-county debut back in 2011.

The two teams couldn’t be separated when they previously met in the league, and both remain unbeaten heading into Sunday’s decider.

“Armagh fans look forward to most games and another day down in Dublin,” added the Ballymacnab clubman.

“It’s a chance to win silverware, something that I don’t think we’ve won since 2010 (Division Two title), it’s something to look forward to.

“We know it’s obviously a big test against Donegal but that’s where you want to be and that’s the type of games you want to play in.”

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