By Shaun Casey
A LOT has been made of Armagh’s 2022 campaign, but as the new season starts to get into full swing, Kieran McGeeney is looking forward rather than looking back.
‘Geezer’, entering his ninth year in charge of Armagh, is looking forward to another year competing at the top level and hopes the huge support the county received last year carries into 2023.
“We hope we can push on but Division One is a tough place,” said the 2002 All-Ireland winning captain. “We’re just going to have to try and stay up there this year and try to push on in the championship, it’s a new format again this year.
“The buzz around the county was brilliant over the summer, it’s just a pity we didn’t get over the line (against Galway) but with that type of support, we might get a wee bit further next year.
“They’re (Armagh) good enough but good enough isn’t always the only thing. There’s commitment, a wee bit of luck getting the right decisions, all those things that can go with us as we saw in all those close games.
“But hopefully one of these years luck will fall on the side of the players, and they’ll get what they deserve,” added McGeeney.
To begin with, the target will be to retain their top tier status before planning for the Ulster Championship.
“I genuinely think you can only start looking at the league. Division One is so important for the future of this team regardless of what backroom team is in place or what management is in place.
“It’s only there that you really learn your trade and the big thing will be to do well and stay up in Division One and then take the championship from there.
“If you have a good year in the league, it gives you a good boost going into the championship. With the format this year, Ulster’s definitely going to be under a bit of pressure going into it, there’s a lot of tough games.
“Some of the favourites for the All-Ireland in the other provincial championships may not have the same pathway and could be better prepared going into the round-robin system.
“A lot of things to look at but for Armagh, the number one thing will be to stay in Division One,” said McGeeney, looking ahead to the new season.
To stay in Division One, Armagh will hope to come out on the right side of a number of Ulster derbies as they’ll clash with Monaghan, Tyrone and Donegal. With four Ulster teams all competing in the top flight, it shows the strength of the province.
“It shows you the standards that’s there and you have Derry who probably should be there, the Ulster champions from last year. But then Fermanagh, Antrim, Cavan, Down, nobody fancies meeting any of them.
“They’re all pushing up the leagues so there’s a lot of things to look at in terms of the Ulster Championship, but every game is competitive. There’s not one that you could ever take for granted.”