Orchard buds have time to get job Done
Tuesday, 15 July 2014
ARMAGH Minor manager Paul Doyle insists that time has been his greatest master as his side prepare to meet Donegal in Sunday's (July 20) at 2pm, Ulster Minor Final.
It will be played in Clones as the curtain-raiser to the Senior Final between Donegal and Monaghan.
The Orchard buds go into the game in confident mood having demolished Cavan with a second half blitz and then finishing strongly in a difficult semi-final against Monaghan, with both games in Clones.
This is Doyle's third season as Armagh Minor manager but the first year he has got past the first round and he believes it is the access and time he has had with players has been the main difference this term.
“We knew that we had a good panel of players but the difference this year is that we have had access and time with the players," said Doyle.
“Any other years the players have been coming back from schools football wrecked and we weren't getting the best out of them. They would have been carrying knocks all season. But this year the schools were knocked out early enough and we were able to give players time off after the MacRory and eased into training initially as we knew we had time.
“Last year our league games were run off in three days and we were introducing the boys from (St Paul's High School) Bessbrook and (St Michael's) Lurgan because they were playing until the end of March.
“So it really was a rush job, and in one of the games some of players didn't know each other's names because we left them alone to play schools football."
Donegal have already won the Ulster Minor league this season beating Armagh on the way to doing so in the semi final.
Armagh were certainly the match of Donegal in that game, particularly in the first half and it needed a fortuitous goal to spur Donegal on to victory.
This Armagh team will not worry about tags - favourites or underdogs - as they have a very strong belief in themselves as they showed in their two championship victories to date over Cavan and Monaghan, last season's Ulster champions.
In the quarter final against Cavan, played in a downpour, Armagh were struggling a little but still managed to go in level at five each at the interval.
The second half was somewhat different story as Armagh outscored their more favoured opponents by 1-8 to one point. A penalty goal by young Conor Cullen, Annaghmore's star for the future, was the motivation to push on to victory.
In the semi-final, Monaghan with all the possession looked the more likely winner but spectacular opportunist goal by Conor Grimley gave them a lead and hope for victory.
A hungry Monaghan, as reigning champions, came back strong to retake the lead but they hadn't allowed for nor expected the depth of character and self-belief that this young Armagh team possess.
And Minor manager Paul Doyle praised the leadership in his squad.
“It has been one of those lucky years for example, usually you have two or three players that stand out to be captain but this year we have eight players that possess leadership potential," he said.
“They organise a lot by themselves and drive each other on.
“They are a young squad and about 10 boys are available for selection next season. The likes of Oisin O'Neill is a born leader and players like him have the confidence in themselves to say what they want to happen and they are not afraid to speak out.
“There is a good group of lads with the right attitude and that is probably more important than anything at this age.
“Even against Monaghan we weren't overly happy with our performance and we have plenty to work on but we came good at the end. And players that maybe weren't having a great game stood up were counted, which is just what we needed.
“The likes of Oisin O'Neill and Caolan McConville were quiet during the game but they grabbed the last two points, which won us the game. And that is through hard work and leadership.
“It is a great sight to see in young lads, that they don't drop their heads when they are losing. They believe that we can go on and win."
Oisin O'Neill and Jarlath Og Burns, sons of former Armagh greats, Gareth and Jarlath respectively, captain Caolan McConville, Ryan Hughes, Conor Cullen and Aidan Rushe are their marquee stars and Padraig Judge, Ryan McKeown and Conor Murphy, who came on to be effective in the semi-final, may be pushing for a starting place.
Donegal Minors play a similar style as their Senior. They pack the defence, break at speed and are a big physical side that won the Ulster League.
And Doyle isn't concerned about who are the favourites or deemed the underdog.
“They are being talked up as expecting to win Ulster and give the All-Ireland a rattle. Declan Bonner has had these lads at U16, U17 and through to Minor, so he has had this team for three years, developed a system and it is a good squad," he said.
“The end of the day it is 60 minutes of football. But if our lads work hard and raise our game we will give Donegal their fill of it.
“We know that if we don't play to our potential the Donegal will win but if we play to our potential anything is possible with this group of lads."
Armagh have already booked their place in the All-Ireland quarter-finals and if they play with courage and conviction the Orchard County possess the talent to be Ulster Minor Champions.
ARMAGH MINOR SQUAD: Ryan Kearney, (Pearse Og), Fergus Quinn (Belleek), Aidan Rushe (Crossmaglen), Cathal Donnelly (Cullyhanna), Cathal Boylan (Killeavy), Cathair McKinney (Killeavy), Conor McNicholl (Pearse Og), Jarlath Og Burns (Silverbridge), Shane Conlon (Cullyhanna), Jack Rafferty (Ballyhegan), Oisin O'Neill (Crossmaglen), Kyle Mallon (Killeavy), Ryan Hughes (Dromintee), Conor Grimley (Madden), Caolan McConville (Killeavy), Colm Rafferty (Grange), Conor Cullen (Annaghmore), Shane Farrelly (Crossmaglen), Ryan Fields (Armagh Harps), Ciaran Higgins (Maghery), Padraig Judge (Tir na nOg), Ryan McKeown (Armagh Harps), Conor Murphy (Armagh Harps) and Paul Quinn (Killeavy).
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