Armagh can’t play the occasion says Forker

By Shaun Casey

PLAYING the game and not the occasion will be the key message from the Armagh minor management team to their squad of players this week as they take on Mayo in the All-Ireland semi-final

The Orchard County haven’t reached the last four of the All-Ireland series at this grade since 2009, when they went on to win the competition, but a stunning display saw them demolish Leinster champions Longford in the quarter-final.

And while it’s been such a long time for Armagh to get back to this juncture, coach Stefan Forker believes there’s a maturity in the camp that will help keep the young heads focused ahead of Sunday evening’s clash in Longford (5.30pm).

“People were talking about Longford the last day and that it was strange for them to have got to an All-Ireland quarter-final, but it was just as strange for Armagh,” said Forker.

“We don’t really think about what the title of the game is, it’s more about who the opposition is and what do we have to do to go about winning the match.

“But when you go to training and you’re planning, you sort of do pinch yourself. Being in All-Ireland quarter-finals and semi-finals is a nice thought. You can’t dwell on it really; you just have to stick to the plan and stick to see what’s working and keep doing it.”

On keeping the players away from the hype, Forker added, “It hasn’t been a factor. You don’t get too emotional about it; you don’t get too drawn into that sort of thing.

“You just have to think about your job and all the different roles and the different kick-out calls and different things like that. That’s the way we have been going about things and that’s the way it’s worked for me in the past.

“You don’t really play the occasion. You just think about your job and the ball, and the boys seem to have a good maturity about them.

“I suppose we’re going down the country and the attendances haven’t been great so maybe that keeps it low-key as well.

“At the moment, the boys are just going about their business. As I keep saying, they’re workmanlike and they’re hungry for more work and more matches.”

Mayo hammered Cork to reach the last four after capturing the Connacht title for the third year in a row.

Kobe McDonald, son of Mayo legend Ciaran, will be one to watch but Forker warns they have plenty of talent throughout their team.

“All the games are on TG4 YouTube so everybody can watch each other. They have just dismantled all before them but it is hard to compare across the different provinces and what the level of other teams are.

“We’ll’ have our homework done on them and they’ll have their homework done on us and they seem like a very formidable team to be fair.

“They’ve a lot of good going forwards, a lot of pace, a lot of power and running power so we’ll have to contend with that.”

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