ARMAGH manager Paul Grimley has pleaded to fans to "stick with us" as he prepares for the most important match of his short tenure to date.
The Orchard county will host Wexford in Division Two of the Allianz Football League tomorrow aware that this is a must-win contest if the spectre of relegation, even at this early stage of the competition, is to be banished.
Having already succumbed to Laois, Armagh plan to mount what Grimley describes as "a huge effort" against Wexford in order to garner the two points that could effectively smooth their path through the league.
Defeat on the other hand could engulf the side in relegation worries but Grimley remains philosophical as he assesses his options for a match in which the very fibre and character of his fledging side will be tested to the full.
And he is hoping that Armagh fans will come out in big numbers to the Athletic Grounds and get behind his players.
"We need our followers to stick with us," states Grimley, "I said when I took over that the re-building of the Armagh team would be a long-term plan and this being the case we need everyone to show understanding of the situation.
"While we were disappointed to lose to Laois, I thought our second-half showing will give us encouragement going in against Wexford."
Grimley is still missing a battery of experienced players such as Brendan Donaghy, Andy Mallon, Aaron Kernan, Jamie Clarke, Charlie Vernon and Tony Kernan but he is not prepared to indulge in excuses.
"The fact of the matter is that we must go with what we have. We have a number of young players in the side and they will only get better if they are afforded the experience of playing against good teams. But we will need a huge effort from them tomorrow," says Grimley.
A quartet of forwards – Ethan Rafferty, Gavin McParland, Eugene McVerry and Stefan Forker – are already beginning to repay the faith that Grimley has been showing in them while James Donnelly and Mark Shields are other players who are beginning to come through.
Stephen Harold will partner Kieran Toner at midfield and Niall McConville takes over at centrethreequarters for tomorrow's tie. Aidan Forker was taken off against Laois, a move that confused Armagh supporters.
But Grimley explains: "A warning was given that he was on thin ice and it was better to replace him that to lose him altogether. He had been doing well while Stefan Forker has been very consistent in getting scores for us.
"Like all managers I would love to have everyone on board but that is not always possible. The door has been opened to a number of players.
"A defeat would see us going into the league break with supporters talking about relegation and we don't want that if we can help it. It's important that we keep trying to focus on promotion as much as possible. Armagh had a good run in Division One and we want to get back up there."
Armagh: P McEvoy; M Shields, J Donnelly, D McKenna; C McKeever, A Forker, B Loughran; S Harold, K Toner; C Rafferty, N McConville, E Rafferty; E McVerry, S Forker, B Mallon.
Wexford: A Masterson; B Malone, G Molloy, R Tierney; A Doyle, J Wadding, A Flynn; D Waters, C Doyle; M Furlong, B Brosnan, P Byrne; S Roche, R Barry, P J Banville.
• FORMER Fermanagh manager Malachy O'Rourke will hope to further nurture the green shoots of recovery when they take on neighbours Cavan at Kingspan Breffni Park tonight (7pm).
An impressive winning start to the Division Three campaign against Meath last Sunday has already painted a vista of promotion.
O'Rourke insists: "Cavan were beaten by Antrim last weekend and won't want to lose any more ground. For ourselves, we were delighted to get that win over Meath so soon after our disheartening display against Mickey Harte's team and now we want to build on that."
Monaghan: M Keogh; C Walsh, F Kelly, K Duffy; D Mone, D Hughes, N McAdam; O Lennon, D Clerkin; G Doogan, P Donaghy, O Duffy; P Finlay, K Hughes, C McManus.