Strength in depth key to Armagh’s summer plans

Barring any further injuries in the coming weeks, Kieran McGeeney is going to have a serious headache when picking his championship line out.

Andrew Murnin, Brendan Donaghy and Conor O’Neill all saw game time against Roscommon while newbies Tiernan Kelly and Ross Finn were in from the start.

Aidan Forker returned, although he didn’t look 100% himself, while Ryan Kennedy and James Morgan were sprung from the bench.

Ross McQuillan and Paddy Burns are still on the comeback trail and the three-week break may do them the world of good.

Photo Credit: John Merry

Stephen Sheridan, Ethan Rafferty and Mark Shields have all been sidelined with season-ending injuries, but Geezer still has plenty of talent to choose from.

It’s an exciting, youthful team, and they have displayed their ability over the course of four encouraging league games.

Speaking after their relegation play-off victory against Roscommon, the Armagh boss talked about his strength in depth.

“We had a strong bench. Normally we’re emptying out bench, today we had a lot of fellas back that we didn’t think we’d have back this year”.

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“It was a great thing to have that and hopefully, just with today’s game, it’ll push places on even harder.

We had four popped back into training on Thursday night but because of the nature of the injury, it’s not like a muscle injury”.

Speaking on the injury front, Geezer took Aidan Forker “at his word” while making the point that if someone is unfit, there are options to replace the injured player.

“You’re always unsure, so we had walk throughs last night (Saturday) and he (Aidan Forker) said he was alright, so I took him at his word.

Jarly (Og Burns) had a bit of tightness on Thursday night. His hamstring was pulling on him so he didn’t train and just the way the places are going at the minute, if you don’t feel 100% there is people there that will step in”.

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“Ross (McQuillan) still hasn’t got back into training yet, nor Paddy Burns, but we still have them to come in.

It was good to have Andrew (Murnin) back in as well, the fella hasn’t played in a good while or one game in maybe 18 months”.

“We’re happy with the way the injuries are going, the medical team are doing a good job, just the way the year has went.

You seen the Tyrone game, we thought we were going good going into it and ten minutes later you’re decimated”.

Photo Credit: John Merry

Jemar Hall, who had an incredible impact on Sunday’s encounter with three points, was hauled off with twenty minutes remaining.

The Forkhill star believes it’s a “team game” and there is enough quality on the bench to come in and see the game out.  

“Of course, everybody wants to finish out the game, but it’s a team game” Hall explained. “We have seven subs there so fresh legs was probably the right option at that time.

I couldn’t afford to get another booking, especially when you’re round that middle third, so I was happy enough for someone else to come on for me”.