McGeeney expecting tough Division Two campaign

By Shaun Casey

ARMAGH are eying up promotion from Division Two next season, but they won’t get anything easy says manager Kieran McGeeney.

The Orchard County will enjoy home comforts for the opening two rounds, against Louth and Meath, and McGeeney is expecting two tough battles.

Armagh were relegated from the top tier last season, losing a number of close games throughout the campaign, and getting back to that level will be the main objective.

“Louth are a tough team, and games between Louth and Armagh down the years have always been very tight. They’re very strong, they’re tenacious, they have a ‘never say die’ attitude. Then we have Meath after that, and all of those verbs could be repeated again about them.

“They’re going to come at us hard and heavy, and they will have a good buzz from last year, because of winning the Tailteann Cup.

“Despite what anybody says, when you walk up steps, it gives any team a wee bit more confidence. Listen, we know what’s coming at us, but hopefully we will stand our ground and get a couple of results.”

The 2002 All-Ireland winning captain was spotting fresh talent throughout the club championship and in Armagh’s recent Club All-Star charity game and is hoping that will push the side on in 2024.

“We’re definitely getting stronger, but you could say from our club teams, it’s great to see Cullyhanna doing well, but we still have a bit to go at club level.

“Sometimes in Armagh, our expectations are higher than maybe they should be, but the group of fellas that we have had over the last number of years have been there or thereabouts at the top table, and despite what people think, that has been a great step up for them.

“It has been a thin line that has separated them (from further success). We all want to get over that, but it is going to take an extra special effort. So, hopefully they will have it in them this year to do that.”

When 2024 rolls around, Kieran McGeeney will be entering his tenth season in charge of his native county. He first pulled on the orange and white jersey at senior level in 1989 and has given 34 years of unbroken service to the inter-county game both as a player and a manager.

“Football is the easy part, believe it or not,” chuckled McGeeney. “It’s the other stuff that’s hard to deal with. I love the GAA; I love being involved and I love my own county.

“It has been a part of who I am for a long, long time. No matter what you do, or how many steps you push them forward, there are always people out there who do very little, who will push them back.

“I have a lot of great people around me too, like Paul Duggan (former Armagh GAA chairperson) and Paul McArdle (Armagh GAA chairperson) over the years.

“I just wish for all of the people who make the noise, to step up and support the team, because they are a great bunch of lads and if everybody got behind them, you never know what might happen.

“What happened last time we won an All-Ireland? Instead of people giving out, they got behind the team and supported them.”

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