Fitness key to Armagh’s improved consistency says O’Neill

For years inconsistency has been a stick to beat the Orchard County with. One day they could shoot the lights out and the next would be a disaster.

The beginning of the 2020 season was perfect example of their inconsistency. Armagh hammered Cavan, who went on to lift the Anglo Celt, by 13-points on the opening day of the campaign.

It was a totally different display the next day out however. Armagh failed to raise a gallop against old foes Laois and lost by six in the end.

Kieran McGeeney seems to have finally rid his side of the Jekyll and Hyde tag following some superb showings this year.

Photo Credit: John Merry

The goal was to retain their division one status, which Armagh did quite impressively.

Although they didn’t beat the big two in Tyrone and Donegal, they showed that they can compete at the top level.

Speaking on The GAA Hour this week, Armagh and Crossmaglen star Oisin O’Neill credited his teams fitness levels for the improved consistency.

Improved Fitness

“That’s something that we’ve struggled with (consistency) for probably, I’m there four or five years now and we have struggled to do that.

But that comes from a lot of hard work. In lockdowns and that we had put in a lot of work individually, on our own”.

“I think when we had that work, you could see the difference in our fitness levels. So one game wasn’t taking as much out of us as it had in previous years.

Sometimes, we just didn’t get the opportunity to train as hard and get the work that the management would have wanted us to do, done.

This year, the last couple of lockdowns, we worked really, really hard on our own and I think that stood to us in the long run”.

Photo Credit: John Merry

Two Kieran’s

Geezer added the star quality of Kieran Donaghy and Ciaran McKeever to his backroom team this season. Their input was also key, explains O’Neill.

“I suppose the freshening up of the management team, in the two Kieran’s, McKeever and Donaghy coming in as well really helped us.

They brought something new and a freshness to the whole set up and put real demands on us. They were very demanding of us each day we went out”

“We had targets and goals to hit and we knew if we hit them goals and targets that we wouldn’t be far away in any game, no matter who we were playing”.

While Armagh didn’t reach the Ulster final, they showed they can compete against the best. They will no doubt look to push on once again next year.

Photo Credit: John Merry