McGeeney pleased with opening day victory

By Shaun Casey

HISTORICALLY, Fermanagh always prove to be a tough test for Armagh, especially in Brewster Park, but the Orchard County were convincing victors over their hosts last weekend, winning 3-9 to 0-11.

Three first-half goals were key for Kieran McGeeney’s side, and the game was essentially over at half time. Ultan Kelm picked up a black card in the opening quarter, and Armagh took full advantage of their extra man.

During that ten-minute spell when Fermanagh were reduced to 14 men, Armagh rattled the net through Conor Turbitt and Jarly Og Burns while Stefan Campbell palmed home a third major just before the break.

“It’s very rare that we get to run away with the game like we did in the first half,” said Orchard boss McGeeney. “But Fermanagh showed their true worth in the second and came back and it was a tighter affair but thankfully we had those goals as a cushion.

“I was happy with the way the fellas pushed up. Sometimes teams can hold onto the ball and there can be injuries and head injuries to wear down the time and you don’t get the benefit of it.

“It’s not always as simple as people feel to push up because when you do you leave gaps behind as well, but I thought the fellas got the balance right today and we’re very happy with what they did.”

Not only did Armagh make it through to the final four of the Ulster Championship, where they’ll now take on Conor Laverty’s Down, but they also got meaningful championship minutes into a number of key men.

Rian O’Neill earned just his second start of the season and kicked a point early on while Burns likewise hit 1-1 in just his second start of the year, having also started the National League Division Two final against Donegal.

Oisin O’Neill and Aidan Nugent are still on their way back from injuries and featured in the second half, with the former kicking a point after entering the fray. Both made a few cameo appearances during the league but have yet to start.

Barry McCambridge also fisted over a score after coming into the action, so McGeeney was pleased to see so many players get minutes into the legs, especially with Conor O’Neill and Greg McCabe currently out injured.

“We’re very happy for a lot of different reasons,” said the 2002 All-Ireland winning captain, now in his tenth season in charge of Armagh.

“I thought we started well, and I thought our goals were well worked, there was a lot of hard work that went into getting them. We had players coming back, Rian’s getting stronger and fitter and so is Jarly Og.

“Having Oisin and Nugent coming on too, we’re happy with the result and we’re happy with the work ethic. We have a lot to work on from some parts of the second half but it’s hard to sustain that the whole time.”

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