Armagh wary of Westerners’ challenge

By Shaun Casey

THE attributes associated with the green and red jersey of Mayo are the reasons that Armagh won’t be taking their foot off the gas as they head west this weekend in search of a sixth successive victory.

The Orchard County currently sit at the top of Division One with a place in the league final all but secure and their manager Gregory McGonigle insists his side can’t be complacent.

“I think the girls beat Mayo when Aimee (Mackin) scored a late-minute penalty against them in the championship, obviously they’re under new management themselves with Liam McHale,” said McGonigle. “They might only have seven points, but they beat Galway by a point, and we only beat Galway by two, they drew with Kerry, Meath got a bit of a run on them and then Dublin, the wind was a massive factor in that one.

“On paper it would look as if it’s a game that we should win but anytime I’ve been coaching against Mayo, going back to my days with Monaghan and Dublin, no Mayo team is every beat, they’re a bit like the lads team, they’ll go full tilt at it, and they don’t know when to give up.”

The Armagh camp is an exciting place to be at the minute but as the Orchard boss explains, with every player chomping at the bit to get a taste of the action, that can often cause its own headaches.

The likes of Corinna Doyle, Niamh Henderson and Caitriona O’Hagan have got in for game time recently and the competition for places is fierce.

“The atmosphere is good but there’s girls trying to get into the panel,” added McGonigle. “We have 34 or 35 players fully fit at the minute which is brilliant from a coaching point of view that the girls are going at it hammer and tongs, ready to get into the team at the weekend.

“The mood’s good but everyone is itching to get game time and getting into the squad of 26 which obviously presents its own challenges but mostly it’s been good.

“We would always go and play Tyrone or Monaghan’s panellists in midweek after our games and Corinna had a very good game against Monaghan in a challenge game and Niamh was very good against Tyrone and that’s what we’re judging it off.

“We have our own in-house games and then the challenge games that we’re arranging as well to not only keep the girls happy but to constantly get a look at them in that competitive environments which forces the players to step up.

“There are always players putting their hands up and it’s not only to get into the starting 15 but to get in as a sub as well with 10 or 15 minutes to go and there’s others in the panel of 35 to get into the matchday squad of 26.

“That creates its own competition inside the squad as well and there’s always some interesting battles at training which is all good.”

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