Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Orchard boys hoping for big finish

All set: Paul Grimley is facing a tough challenge
All set: Paul Grimley is facing a tough challenge

Armagh manager Paul Grimley is facing into the toughest period of his tenure to date as he prepares to plot his team's survival in Division Two of the Allianz Football League.

Five points from as many games mean that the Orchard County have to all intents and purposes been edged out of the promotion race with two from Donegal, Monaghan or Down likely to make the ascent into the top bracket.

And given the fine line that tends to separate promotion and relegation, Grimley now accepts that retaining their current status will still amount to an achievement of sorts for his fledgling outfit.

On Sunday week Armagh face struggling Galway and then on April 6 they will take on Donegal in a massive home assignment.

Grimley, disappointed by the manner in which Monaghan finished so strongly against his side on Saturday night to record a 1-17 to 0-10 win, accepts that they are skating on thin ice at the moment.

"We had got momentum going following those two wins over Meath and Laois but we lost our way against Monaghan. Now it is up to us to try and put in a big finish to the league," asserts Grimley.

"Our total focus now must be on our trip to Galway. They may not have been doing too well but they were still able to pull out a big performance against Down. They will be at home too and that will be a help to them you would imagine."

The Armagh boss has just received timely backing, too, from one of the county's most respected sporting icons.

Jimmy Smyth captained the Orchard County side that lost to Dublin in the 1977 All-Ireland final and since then has undertaken huge work in coaching and through his active involvement over many years in the Ulster Vocational schools GAA sector.

"I think that there are parallels between the present Armagh side and that which represented the county in 1977," reflects Lurgan Clan na gael clubman Smyth.

"We were not expected to do a whole lot of things and yet we surprised quite a few people," he added.

Smyth believes that the unpredictable series of results which has been a feature of Division Two could yet provide succour for Armagh.

"The division is throwing up all sorts of anomalies. But a win in Galway is absolutely essential now," adds Smyth.

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