By Kieran Lynch
ARMAGH qualified for the Division Two league final with a 3-15 to 1-6 victory over Westmeath on Sunday, but that doesn’t mean they’ll take their foot off the gas this weekend against Tipperary, insists manager Shane McCormack.
Having won all six of their league games to date, Armagh now face arguably their toughest encounter yet as they travel away to the second-placed side in the division, but McCormack says that because the league final looms, every player will want to make their mark this Sunday.
“Everyone got some game time there against Westmeath but to be honest, it’s going to be dog eat dog this week in training,” he said.
“The girls know what’s at stake with the league final coming up in a few weeks’ time, and everyone will get a fair crack of the whip.
“It’s an old cliché to take things one game at a time, but that’s what we will do. It’s our last league game and we’ll just be going out and trying to perform; a win will keep momentum going and that’s very important.”
Whilst Armagh have competed with the best teams in Ireland at the top level of the Senior Championship for a number of years now, their inconsistency in the league has seen them stuck in the second tier for six years.
Consequently, McCormack didn’t shy away from the fact that the team are determined to achieve promotion up to the topflight this season.
“It’s very important,” he said. “We’ve been in Division Two for the last number of years and things didn’t go well for us last year (in the final against Kerry).
“We’re here to rectify that, and whilst we take things one game at a time, the girls want to be back in Croke Park, and we’re going back there now after today.
“But it doesn’t stop there, we’re there for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to win it, simple as that.”
Unfortunately for the Orchard County, if they are to achieve promotion, they will have to do it without livewire corner-forward Alex Clarke who sustained a very serious injury to her left knee in a recent training session. For the second year running, will miss significant game time.
Whilst McCormack was gutted for the Crossmaglen star, he believes his team’s squad depth will allow chances for others to step in and impress.
“I’m absolutely devastated for her, and I know that the girls are too,” said McCormack.
“But she was injured last year and came back fighting, so I know that’s the type of girl that she is – she’ll come back fighting again. Look, she’s still one of the girls; she’s devastated, but I know she’ll come back.
“She’s a fantastic player, she has a great eye for goal. But thankfully we have a strong squad with great forwards.”