McGeeney expecting tough opener against neighbours

By Shaun Casey

ARMAGH have met Louth three times since Kieran McGeeney returned to the Orchard County following his six-year stint with Kildare and have an unbeaten record against their Leinster neighbours.

In 2014, a late Stefan Forker goal saved Armagh’s blushes and stole a point while in 2015 and 2017, McGeeney’s men were ahead by two and 14 points when the full-time whistle sounded at the end of each encounter.

Still, the Armagh boss, now in his tenth season in charge of his native county, is expecting a “tough game” against Louth as Armagh open their Division Two league campaign and goes back to his own playing days to highlight the challenge that his side face.

“Our first game is against Louth, our neighbours,” said McGeeney, looking ahead to the upcoming National League campaign.

“They’ve always been tough games, even after we won the All-Ireland, we played them in a charity game and it was a tough game. You’d have sworn it was a championship game itself.

“We know what’s coming, Louth have always been like that. Even when Armagh are good and Louth are poor or when Louth are good and Armagh are poor, they’re always tough games so we’re expecting the same.”

Dublin All-Ireland winner Ger Brennan heads the Louth management team, having taken over from Mickey Harte who guided the Wee County to third place in the Division Two league table last season after earning promotion from Division Three in 2022.

“Ger Brennan is over the them and I know Ger from my playing days down in Na Fianna. Hhe was a tough fella himself and he’s made a good reputation for himself as a manager and has a great backroom team with him as well,” added Geezer.

“David White from Kildare is with him; David is a friend of my own from way back. We’re looking forward to starting it and we know it’s going to be a tight game.”

Saturday evening’s clash is the first of four home games that Armagh will enjoy, with Meath, Donegal and Cavan all coming to the BOX-IT Athletic Grounds in the coming weeks.

Armagh picked up three points from their three home games in Division One last season, a round two draw with Mayo and a three-point win over Donegal, but their 2002 All-Ireland winning captain is hoping that theOrchard support can help his side earn some victories.

“I think we play well in big pitches too,” added the 2002 Footballer of the Year. “We do try to play an expansive game despite what people might put it down as, we try to move the ball and attack, but we like the Athletic Grounds too obviously.

“It’s our home ground and there’s a great buzz in it because while it’s not a massive stadiut it’s very well run. Itt’s probably the proper size of stadium for National League football.

“Hopefully we’ll get big crowds this year and get a good buzz going and more importantly, hopefully we get a few wins in it.”

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