Armagh Promotion

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

WHILST Saturday's win against Derry for Armagh was by no means the greatest performance in the world, at this stage of the league campaign it was all about winning.
Getting the win means that Armagh's more or less assured of promotion because I think the rest of the teams will take a few points off each other towards the end. Armagh have the safety net of playing Wexford in Wexford in their last game, and Wexford are a side who I think are at an all-time low, so I'd expect Armagh to win that game.
However, the one cause of concern for Kieran McGeeney is that they've picked up a few injuries, with Paul Hughes, Joe McElroy and Ethan Rafferty all taking knocks.
I don't know how serious their injuries are, but it's worrying because Paul Hughes and Ethan Rafferty have been Armagh's two best players in the league this year. Whilst it is undoubtedly a worry, Kieran will know that they're in a good position in that they're more or less assured of promotion now, they've more or less assured of a league final, so hopefully a week's rest will see them fit for selection against Wexford.
This would set them up for championship because realistically players will have the whole month of April and most of May to recuperate and get fit, so with that in mind, they have a bit of time to get players back into full fitness. There probably is a bit riding on the Fermanagh league game, as because of the Championship game, both teams will be in a bit of a quandary as to whether they show their hand or hold a bit back?
It's a quandary for every manager but I don't think that you can afford to hold anything back at this stage because Fermanagh will be going full out because they need the points from their last two games to join Armagh in Division Two because, barring a complete accident, Armagh will go up. Armagh would want to make it secure by getting a point against Fermanagh so that they could rest players for the game against Wexford. If Armagh were to lose against Fermanagh, there's the prospect that they could play them three times in the next couple of months; in the league, the final of the league and the Championship, which would be familiarity breeding contempt big time.
You would find out a lot about Fermanagh, but they would also find out a lot about you. Ideally, from an Armagh point of view, you wouldn't want to be playing them in a league final and then having to prepare for them again in the Championship.
Down, once again were extremely wasteful against Cavan, which has been the story of their season. They created a huge amount of scoring chances in their last two games against Cavan and Clare and couldn't convert them, so it's something they need to work on. As a manager, you hope that your players can take the right options, get themselves into the right positions and become more clinical in taking those chances.
What separates the good from the bad is converting these opportunities, but the strange thing is that it's not something that you ever would have associated with Down is missing opportunities, but I do feel that it is something that can be rectified. It would be a different scenario altogether if you weren't creating the chances in the first place. The only worry from the Down point of view is that things are getting tight round the bottom of that division.


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