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Off The Record by Oisin McConville

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

I WAS at the Armagh game, and when you are at these games, you are inclined to think: 'How bad were Sligo?'

But you have to take Armagh's performance on its merits. It was a very comprehensive performance, they put the game to bed after probably 15 or 20 minutes. Sligo looked really bereft of ideas, but Armagh did what they had to do.

Defensively they look solid, and up front they were able to take scores at will. I was very impressed with them, I thought they played some good, open, attractive football and as I say they defended well.

That's a part of the game which let us down that let us down at certain stages of the league last year. They defended as a team, and they were able to break with a wee bit more pace than they did last year.

I would mention the likes of Patrick Burns, and I know that Gregory McCabe has played before - but he's not really somebody who you would associate with starting at centre half back - and I thought he he did really well too.

And Ryan McShane did well up front. So the performances of some of the virtual newcomers was really positive. Armagh need that little bit of confidence. Next week's game, for me, is probably the league decider.

I think Westmeath and Armagh are the strongest two teams in that division. I know Fermanagh and Derry are there as well but I do think that Westmeath have been going well. They have started the season really well.

I would have liked to have got them a wee bit later on in the league, but we have them next week. It's away and that will be a really tough game. I think if Armagh win that game, without getting over-confident about it, it would bring us a long way towards promotion.

Down had a good win against Louth, with Connaire Harrison getting 1-3. He's a very good player and he has kicked on a bit from last year.

When he went into the Championship last year, he probably hadn't a lot of fitness work done - he looks fitter and leaner already than he did during the Championship last season.

So he has obviously bought in Down's vision big time, and he has been buoyed by the fact that he had a good year last year.

For Down, Division Two is the toughest division of them all. It is actually like the Championship in England.

Everybody beats everybody else in Division Two, and I'm not sure if any of them are really fit to go up and play Division One football. But at the same time, not to contradict myself, they are probably a little bit too good for Division Two.

It's very competitive and if you remember this time last year - Down were on a dreadful run of defeats. So it was a great way for them to start the league. They've got a home game against Cork next weekend.

Having watched Cork at the weekend - Ian Maguire was their best player and he went off and looks like he might be injured for this weekend, which would be a major plus for Down - it is a game that Down can realistically look to win. And to have four points on the board in that division after two games would be massive for them.

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