Forker hails special Armagh minor crop

By Michael McMullan

ARMAGH minors have booked an All-Ireland semi-final clash with Mayo later this month and selector Stefan Forker has heaped the praise at the players’ door.

It will be a first appearance in the last four since 2009 when a side including current senior stars Andrew Murnin and Rory Grugan went on to beat Mayo in the final.

Armagh were Ulster champions four years earlier but Mayo edged the Orchard County by a point at the quarter-final stage.

“It’s not familiar territory for sure,” Forker said, “we spoke about the privileged position that we were in as Armagh minors.”

Their 0-12 to 1-7 Ulster final defeat to Derry was the county’s first appearance in a provincial final at this grade for over a decade.

Armagh bounced back with a comfortable win over Leinster champions Longford with Conall Wilson and Diarmaid O’Rourke playing starring roles running from deep.

“There’s no hangover at all from the final,” Forker said. “We probably got a few pats on the back that we didn’t want, as if to say we got close to Derry.”

After dusting themselves down, it was a case of getting reset and they now face into an All-Ireland semi-final against an impressive Mayo side who easily accounted for Cork in the last eight.

“We missed a lot as well,” Forker said of his own side’s performance against Longford. “We went for goals at the start, which was silly play from our point of view. We stuck to the task and kept the scoreboard sticking over in the second half.”

Since the All-Ireland quarter-finals were introduced in 2002, it has given a second chance to beaten provincial finalists. Like other counties before them, Armagh are taking full advantage of the extra run of games. But what else is different this season in the camp?

“I suppose we have a cohort of players that are good enough,” Forker said of the main ingredient to a progressive campaign.

“Armagh always produce good players, as you can see the way the senior team is going, but maybe not all at the same time.

“We think that we have boys here who are not only talented, but you can see from the work rate there that they’re just hungry for work.

“They’re hungry for work and training. It’s alright coaching, but they’re taking it on board.

“You can talk to your blue in the face in set-ups about kick-outs and you have different calls, but the boys need to do their homework and they always do. They’re diligent about that.”7

Our All-Ireland minor coverage is brought to you in association with Electric Ireland.

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