Improving Armagh bidding for promotion

By Kieran Lynch

ARMAGH are hoping to achieve promotion from Division 3A in manager Karl McKeegan’s first year on the job, but things won’t come easy against Roscommon.

The Orchard County showed flashes of good and bad, with wins over Louth, Mayo and Fermanagh, but defeat against Monaghan and a hammering at the hands of the Rossies.

However, McKeegan conceded that he always expected ‘ups and downs’ as he gets to know the group of players.

“It has been an up and down league for us,” he said.

“We came in as a new management team at the start of the year and we brought in a lot of new players as well into the panel. So, we have been trying to get to know the players, and trying to get them to play together as best as we can.

“We knew it was going to take time, we knew we were going to have the ups and downs. It’s a work in progress and whenever you have new people coming in, it won’t just click immediately, but last week I think we saw what we have been trying to do and the way we have been trying to get them to play.”

However, Armagh put in their best league showing to date last weekend, as they defeated Monaghan 2-23 to 0-16 at home in the semi-final, with captain Fionntan Donnelly in top form, whilst Shea Harvey and Cormac Jennings found the net.

“We knew we had a point to prove, and I think the boys showed that, because we played really well,” said McKeegan.

“In some of our league games we were starting slow, in others we started well, but switched off, so we wanted to put together a performance for a full 70 minutes.

“We started really fast and maintained that level throughout.”

Armagh will need to take the confidence from Saturday’s win into the final this weekend, because defeating Roscommon will be no easy task. They trounced Armagh 2-20 to 0-6 earlier in the league campaign in a game McKeegan described as a ‘disaster.’

“The Roscommon game was the biggest disaster throughout the league,” he said.

“We started slow and then got a man sent off after 10 minutes, and the heads dropped. Don’t get me wrong, Roscommon played some good hurling that day and we just weren’t fit to match them, but there is no way there should have been 20 points between us.

“After that game, we righted a few wrongs and as I told the players, ‘sometimes you get days like that and you just have to try and forget about it.’”

McKeegan is committed to developing hurling within the county and he discussed the importance that going up to Division 2B could have.

“I think it would be huge,” he said.

“A wee bit of success helps everyone. I would love if we could draw out more supporters, because they are playing a good brand of hurling. You see the support that the footballers get compared to the hurlers and it’s unbelievable.

“But if we can get some success on Saturday, maybe people will take notice and get more young people involved in hurling in Armagh.”

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