Knockout football could suit Armagh

ARMAGH legend Oisin McConville feels that the lack of a backdoor this season could be lead to a much-improved performance from the Orchard county in this year’s Ulster Championship.

Kieran McGeeney’s time in charge has usually taken a path of poor provincial performances – their win over Down last year was their first in his fifth season in charge – followed by impressive runs through the Qualifiers.

With a straight knockout system in place for 2020 and a trip to Celtic Park to face Derry on November 1 in store, McConville feels that Armagh could make their move.

“I think that the good thing about this year is that there is no choice,” said the Crossmaglen manager.

“There is no comfort zone. If you are beaten against Derry then you’re done and dusted.

“This Armagh team has a bit more about them than that being their fate for the year. I think they have a lot of players who are in form at the minute and they should be comparatively fresh.

“Yes, they played championship and a bit of league stuff in Armagh, but generally speaking it has been a fairly handy year for players.

“I understand that they’ve had to keep training, but the league started, you had a break, and now you’re back into it. There was a good mental break; it wasn’t just go, go, go.

“They didn’t have to service their county and please their club at the same time, and that will be a help. The mental freshness will definitely help them.”

Armagh’s preparations for the inter-county resumption were hit by a Covid-19 outbreak in the squad with those who tested positive and close contacts having to miss some training.

All being well, everyone should be back on board by the time they face Roscommon in Division Two on October 17.

McConville believes that this could be an exciting period for Orchard county fans, and he feels that the chatter about their attack is justified.

“It’s maybe better than people believe it is,” he said. “I still don’t think it’s played to its potential.

“You look at Maghery’s Aidan Forker who played in the county final and looked very adept up front, he could end up back in there and will give you a bit more strength.

“Put Rian and Oisin (O’Neill) in there alongside him and it adds so much too. They have a lot of options.

“Physically I don’t think there are any big problems but mentally they just have to hit the ground running and if they do that they have a great chance of going well.”

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