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It's time for Armagh to move up in the world, says award winner Grimley

By John Campbell

Armagh midfield ace Niall Grimley is the latest winner of the Quinn Building Products Ulster GAA Writers Association monthly merit award, but team success rather than personal glory is very much on the Madden clubman's radar for the 2018 season.

While the Orchard County exceeded all expectations by reaching the All-Ireland quarter-finals, in which they were beaten by Tyrone earlier this month, Grimley believes they are capable of perhaps surpassing this feat next year.

But he is in no doubt as to what the team's prime goal must be.

"We just have to get out of Division Three, that's a must," insists Grimley.

"We want to be playing against better teams on a consistent basis and by doing that we will be better prepared to become a real force in the Championship. While we were happy overall with our progress this year, we do not believe that our performance against Tyrone was reflective of our ability and we want to make up for that."

Grimley earned his writers' award on the back of stunning performances in Armagh's qualifier wins over Westmeath and Tipperary in which he scored a total of nine points from midfield.

His free-kicking proved a decided asset to Armagh this year, yet it's an aspect of his game which he is keen to improve further.

"When you put your hand up to take frees you have to show that you can deliver and the only way you can do this is by practice, practice and more practice," asserts 22-year-old Grimley.

"This is only my second year with Armagh but a number of players have now been blooded in the side and the experience we have gained this year should stand us in good stead for next year. To be honest, I can't wait to get going again as I just love it."

His writers' award clearly took him by surprise, particularly when he learned the identity of some of the other nominees who had been in the hunt for it.

"When I saw names like Colm Cavanagh, Kieran Hughes, Jamie Clarke and Declan McClure in the mix, the award meant even more to me," he said.

He was presented with an engraved Belleek Living vase, specially designed silver cuff links from Carlingford Design House and training gear from O'Neill's International Sportswear.

Quinn Products Antrim and Down representative Paddy Murray made the presentation at a function in Quinn's Corner.

Meanwhile, Derry U21 hurling manager Collie McGurk is urging his side to raise their game for Saturday's All-Ireland semi-final against a Kilkenny side that are red-hot favourites to land the title following the convincing manner in which they came through to land the Leinster crown.

McGurk will reiterate his message at training tonight and believes that his players will be up for the challenge.

"I think we have shown that we have a talented squad and the important thing is that we give of our best at Semple Stadium, Thurles on Saturday," said McGurk. "If a team wants success in hurling then they have to be able to take on an outfit like Kilkenny and show they are able for the challenge."

Derry beat Antrim and Down on their way to the Ulster title, but McGurk recognises that Kilkenny will be a huge proposition.

Belfast Telegraph

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