McGeeney heaps praise on hard working O’Neill

Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney has credited Rian O’Neill’s work ethic after their one-point victory over Down. O’Neill chipped in with three points from the middle of the field as Armagh qualified for the Ulster final.

It was the first time the Crossmaglen clubman got 70 minutes under his belt since the All-Ireland quarter-final last year. And McGeeney, now in his tenth season in charge, singled him out for some praise.

O’Neill was Armagh’s top scorer last year across the board and has been every year since making his debut in 2019 apart from 2021. His move to midfield has proved a success so far for McGeeney.

“I thought he had a great game,” said the 2002 All-Ireland winning captain. “Not just on the front foot, he was very good on the back foot for us too, very disciplined.

“He was pushing on the team too and played a real leader’s role. The fella’s only 25, we were all learning the craft at that age so hopefully he’ll push on now.

“He’ll get plenty of attention the next day too. He got plenty of attention last day. Everybody’s always looking to push him.

“He’s a tough fella, they try to and push his buttons, but I suppose, like most of those players, you’re hoping to get some of the protection too.

Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney has credited Rian O’Neill’s work ethic after their one-point victory over Down.

“But he’s been responding really well this year. He’s putting his head down and working hard. You can’t ask for more than that.”

Armagh are now preparing for an Ulster final date with old rivals Donegal as they return to Clones in two weeks’ time. The two sides haven’t crossed paths in a provincial decider since 2006 at Croke Park.

The Ulster final will be their fourth meeting of 2024, however. They clashed in the McKenna Cup, the league, the Division Two final and Armagh have yet to taste victory.