Armagh searching for right formula
Darkness had enveloped Oliver Plunkett Park, Crossmaglen by the time the Armagh team vacated the playing arena following their O'Fiaich Cup final defeat to Derry last month.
And anyone who might have thought that the tournament was nothing more than a casual preamble to the season proper was left in no doubt about the passion, commitment and huge self-sacrifices that manager Paul Grimley and his No 2 Kieran McGeeney will expect from their players in 2014 as they conducted the most thorough of warm-downs.
McGeeney brought a level of intensity to football as a player that bordered on frightening and having had his hand on the Kildare tiller for six years he has now transferred his renowned motivational powers to his native county.
Thus when Armagh launch their Power NI Dr McKenna Cup itinerary against Queen's at the Athletic Grounds tomorrow it can be reasonably expected that McGeeney's combative rhetoric will be ringing in the players' ears.
Since linking up with Armagh, McGeeney has maintained a diplomatic silence, with Grimley instead left to carry the PR flag.
"Our plan has to been to get a panel together with an average age of about 23 and the young lads who have come in have been doing particularly well," states Grimley.
"They have bonded very well."
McGeeney has played no small part in cementing the spirit and optimism which currently engulfs the squad.
Time will tell if his longed-for return to his native heath will prove a contributory factor in helping to thrust Armagh up among the elite again.
* TYRONE manager Mickey Harte hands debuts to Conan Grugan, Shay McGuigan and Emmet McKenna for tomorrow's meeting with Donegal.
Niall Morgan returns in goals, Plunkett Kane partners newcomer Grugan in midfield and Mattie Donnelly fills the full-forward role.
Tyrone: N Morgan; A McCrory, C Clarke, B Tierney; C Mcginley, D McBride, T McCann; P Kane, C Grugan; N McKenna, S McGuigan, E McKenna; P McNeice, M Donnelly, R O'Neill.