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Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney will tackle red card issue head on

By John Campbell

Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney certainly has food for thought as he ponders his line-up for tomorrow night's Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup third round tie against St Mary's at the Athletic Grounds.

In going down to Tyrone in their opening game, Armagh lost skipper Ciaran McKeever to a red card and Aaron Findon and Finnian Moriarty each to two yellow cards.

Then on Sunday last against Antrim, Jamie Clarke was given his marching orders.

And to compound Armagh's rather depressing statistics, James Morgan was red-carded while assisting St Mary's against Tyrone on Sunday.

The word 'frustration' has increasingly been invoked in the analysis of both Armagh games to date, yet it should not be allowed to serve as a total explanation for the team's transgressions.

The Dr McKenna Cup intensity is nowhere near that of the Allianz League and a world removed from the white heat of championship warfare, so perhaps the Orchard County are being served an early warning that keeping cool must be a pre-requisite going forward.

McGeeney's anxiety to elicit the best possible performances from his players is clearly ensuring that their competitive juices are already in full flow but while he acknowledges that this is encouraging, he now preaches caution.

"Players like Jamie Clarke have to learn to be disciplined. We need to have our players playing, not being sent out of the action," states McGeeney.

He has already claimed that there are anomalies surrounding the tackle law as it is currently framed, but recognises that his team must maintain their discipline if they are to make headway.

Findon, meanwhile, faces an interesting challenge tomorrow night when he looks certain to go head-to-head with St Mary's midfield ace Emmet Bradley.

The latter was his team's outstanding player in their loss to Tyrone on Sunday and when his involvement with St Mary's is finished, he may be invited to return to the Derry squad with whom he caught the eye on occasions last year, notably when they won the O'Fiaich Cup.

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