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League finals are now a platform to deceive Championship rivals

By Declan Bogue

Published 29/04/2015

Down manager Jim McCorry
Down manager Jim McCorry

Ten years on from the Armagh team of the multiple Macs - McGeeney, McGrane, McDonnell, McConville, McEntees and McNultys - the Orchard County are inching their way back into the light.

It might have only been a Division Three title, greeted with as much delight by captain Ciaran McKeever as the now-manager Kieran McGeeney used to reserve for the Anglo-Celt Cup in the days when Armagh were all about Sam or bust, but it is something nonetheless.

Is the legendary Armagh support shrinking, or was it always summer bandwagon-based?

Either that or the appetite for league finals is diminishing.

The last time the league final was outside Croke Park was in 2008, with Fermanagh facing Wexford in the Division Three final, and Kerry taking on Derry in the Division One decider.

Played in Parnell Park under late Spring sunshine, there was a raucous atmosphere in the ground that afternoon.

Last Saturday night, just over 8,000 souls from four counties were in a stadium of over 82,000 capacity.

In the Division Two showpiece the following day, Down boss Jim McCorry kept his hand well-hidden from prying Derry eyes trying to decipher what moves they might pull in the Championship in under four weeks at Celtic Park.

Whatever happens that day, we can be assured that Aidan Carr will not be marking the Oak Leafs' most dangerous inside forward, Eoin Bradley, as he was against Senan Kilbride.

And with four goals to his name having only played a handful of minutes here and there in the league, we can also be sure that Arthur McConville will get more than the seven minutes he got on Sunday.

The league finals. Nothing but subterfuge.

Belfast Telegraph

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