Armagh’s Rian O’Neill celebrates scoring a goal(Image: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson)

Armagh have forward talent to be challengers again, reckons Joe Kernan

Kieran McGeeney seemed poised to take Armagh back to Division 1 football for the first time since 2012


Kieran McGeeney’s Armagh footballers have the flair and talent up front to be significant challengers again, according to former county boss Joe Kernan.

McGeeney, in his sixth season in charge, seemed poised to take Armagh back to Division 1 football for the first time since 2012 and they were on top of Division 2 with two games remaining before the lockdown.

Defeat to Mayo in the 2019 All-Ireland qualifiers stalled what was a positive season for McGeeney’s charges and Kernan reckons their fire power has even grown since that MacHale Park defeat.

“I think the balance in the team now is better than it was. I think we have more attacking flair than we had. The two O’Neills [Oisín and Rian] alone give you that,” said Kernan, who managed Armagh to 2002 All-Ireland success.

“We have forwards with real talent and flair that can score as individuals but they are also good team players.

“Then you have young Jarly Óg (Burns) in the middle of the field. There is a good balance in the middle, three or four players there who can match anybody. They are mobile and young.

“In defence, maybe we might need one or two more and then we’d really have a squad that you’d say could go anywhere.

“Have we improved over the last 12 months? Are we in a better place? Yeah, I think we are. I was at the Mayo game in Castlebar last year and we were very unlucky. The further you go in a competition the better you get, but it was just a pity they they didn’t get another one or two games to see how far they could have gotten.”
Armagh Manager Kieran McGeeney(Image: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne)

With two games remaining in the 2020 Allianz League, Armagh will be keen to finish out the competition and see if they can achieve promotion. Currently they are level with Roscommon at the top of the standings, with Cavan one point behind, while Westmeath and Laois are also in with a chance in a very tight division.

Kernan says he is hopeful that the GAA looks at playing out the competition if at all possible, with Roscommon and Clare still to play.

“Everything seemed to be going alright before the virus arrived. We were happy in Armagh. It is disappointing that a halt had to be called.

“We are very happy with the progress. The league has gone well so far. I just hope they get to finish it out and get promotion now, which would be a big plus. We’ll just have to wait and see I suppose.

“The thing is no one knows how to cope with this thing yet. Until they find a way to kill it, and that means a vaccine, until they find that you have that worry that things cannot go back to where they were.

“You have a worry in the back of your mind can we ever fill a ground of 80,000 people again with this? That’s your big worry from a GAA point of view.”