Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Armagh captain Kieran McGeeney keen to pile pressure on rival bosses

Kieran McGeeney knows all about the vagaries of life as an inter-county team manager.

Since taking over at the Kildare helm over two years ago former Armagh captain McGeeney has had his share of ups and downs, a Leinster crown remaining an elusive goal and frustration proving the name of the game in the bid to reach the last four of the All Ireland title race.

Yet while McGeeney is focused on further securing his own position with the Lily Whites, he could now find himself playing a part in terminating the roles of two current Ulster bosses.

Last Saturday Kildare vanquished Derry in the third round of the All Ireland football qualifiers at Celtic Park in what was regarded as one of the poorest Oak Leaf performances for some time and since then a huge question mark hangs over the continued involvement of Damian Cassidy as team manager.

Cassidy has spent two years in charge of Derry and having surrendered to Monaghan in the opening match of the Ulster Championship last year his team bowed out at the same stage of the competition to Armagh this term. Relegation in the National League compounded Cassidy’s misery leaving him to now contemplate his future.

And while the Bellaghy man takes stock, Monaghan boss Seamus McEnaney could be forced into a similar position should his side lose to McGeeney’s men in the fourth round of the qualifiers at Croke Park on Saturday.

If Sunday’s Ulster final clash with Tyrone was viewed as a defining match for Monaghan, then the confrontation with Kildare will hold the key to McEnaney’s future.

Having been in charge for five years he was totally deflated when his team suffered that 10-point mauling from the Red Hands and is now charged with the task of restoring morale for the showdown with the Lily Whites.

But while McGeeney empathises with the position in which Cassidy and McEnaney currently find themselves, he is rather more concerned with the mood and attitude within his own dressing room.

And the 2002 All Ireland winning captain is aware that a Monaghan backlash could be the order of the day at Croke Park.

“Their pride was hurt in the Ulster final. They will feel that they did not perform anywhere near their best and they will come to Croke Park anxious to make up for this. For our part we have to try and reach the next level. We simply must take our chances and we cannot afford to give Monaghan any scope. All managers are under pressure especially at this time of the year — results are everything,” raps McGeeney.

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