Steven Poacher previews the Ulster SFC clash of Armagh and Derry, analyses managers Kieran McGeeney and Rory Gallagher, and looks at the development of the Orchard County under Geezer.
BY SHANE STAPLETON
Armagh lock horns with Derry in the Ulster SFC championship this weekend in a make-or-break clash.
There is no back door this year, meaning everything is on the line for Kieran McGeeney and Rory Gallagher — with the latter in his first year at the helm.
They last met in the championship in 2011, with Derry winning 3-14 to 1-11, though the Orchard County will go in as favourites having recently secured promotion to the top tier of the league.
“This is the first time that Armagh have been promoted to Division One in nine years, which is a huge achievement and massive progress,” says former Carlow and current Down minor coach Steven Poacher.
“Three years ago, they were struggling at the bottom of Division Three after a couple of league games. This is a team that McGeeney has been building since 2017.
“Back then, the team was naive and gung-ho, playing football on the front foot and kicking it an awful lot.
“Game management, they were probably losing games when they shouldn’t have been. They’ve made massive progress.
“Some people in Armagh would be a little bit critical because what’s in their minds is the success they had before, thinking of the golden era of the noughties when they won an All-Ireland, dominated Ulster.
“What he has done is rebuilt the team from scratch. If you look at it now, Rian and Oisin O’Neill, Jarly Og Burns, the experience of Stefan Campbell, Rory Grugan is a class footballer along with Aidan Forker.
“What they have now is a serious scoring threat from everywhere. It was no mean feat to go to Clare on a heavy pitch and score 1-18 (last weekend).
“I would have massive time for the job McGeeney has done in Armagh, and one of his shrewdest moves was to bring in Jim McCorry as his number two.”
Click play on the video at the top of the page to watch the full discussion.
Saturday 31 October
Munster SFC quarter-final
Waterford v Limerick, Dungarvan, 7pm
Ulster SFC preliminary round
Monaghan v Cavan, Clones, 1.15pm
Sunday 1 November
Connacht SFC quarter-final
Leitrim v Mayo, Avantcard Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada, 1.15pm – RTÉ News Now
Leinster SFC round 1
Louth v Longford, TEG Cusack Park, 1.30pm – GAAGO
Offaly v Carlow, O’Connor Park, 1.30pm – GAAGO
Wexford v Wicklow, Chadwicks Wexford Park, 1.30pm – GAAGO
Munster SFC quarter-final
Tipperary v Clare, Semple Stadium, 1pm – GAAGO
Ulster SFC quarter-final
Donegal v Tyrone, Ballybofey, 1.30pm – RTE
Derry v Armagh, Celtic Park, 4pm – BBC NI
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