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Armagh have no time to waste: Paul Grimley

By John Campbell

When Paul Grimley initially introduced a fresh tranche of players into his Armagh squad, he did not quite bargain on having to deploy the majority of them on frontline duty so soon in their fledgling careers.

But circumstances dictate that the Orchard County boss must place his faith in youth blossoming once again when his side confront Roscommon in today's All-Ireland third round qualifier at Dr Hyde Park (5.00pm).

And a major share of responsibility looks certain to be entrusted on the young shoulders of Aaron Findon and Stephen Harold in particular at midfield.

Injuries to Kieran Toner and Ethan Rafferty, coupled with the fact that Charlie Vernon is required for defensive duties and James Lavery will play no more football for the county this year, have severely limited Grimley's resources in the engine-room.

Yet the manner in which Findon and Harold have been adapting to the demands of top-level football persuade Grimley that they can perhaps lay the basis for victory today against a Roscommon side who enter the fray bolstered by an impressive recent track record.

Grimley, conscious that primary possession in the middle third of the park could see an attack in which Jamie Clarke, Stefan Campbell and Tony Kernan are now key figures thrive, lays it on the line in terms of what needs to be done.

"Roscommon have the reputation of being physical and rugged but they can also play with style so we have to try and win first-phase possession," points out Grimley.

"We will have to contest possession vigorously at midfield and then hope that we can set our attack in motion."

While the Armagh attack certainly carries a cutting edge, particularly if Clarke and Campbell see enough of the ball, it will come up against one of the best full-back lines in the country in Seanie McDermott, Niall Carty and Neil Collins.

It is a unit which has served Roscommon well to date, restricting the input of several opposition marquee forwards on their team's journey into Division Two of the league and into this stage of the championship.

And while ebullient manager Evans has faith in his defensive mechanism, he is also hopeful that his own forward line can engage top gear from the outset.

"Armagh have a reputation for being very solid at the back and this means we are going to have to work hard for scores," stresses Evans.

"But the important thing is that we are patient, disciplined and streetwise. We need to make the most of the chances that come our way because we will concede scores at our peril as Armagh will have taken great confidence from that win over Tyrone."

In the fast-rising Diarmuid Murtagh, the accurate Cathal Cregg and the experienced Senan Kilbride, Roscommon possess quality forwards who can perhaps more than atone for the absence of star player Donie Shine, a cruciate ligament injury victim.

Like Armagh, Roscommon will be keen to establish a foothold at midfield and furnish their frontline with quality possession.

The backing of a vociferous home crowd will do their cause no harm, either, nor will the fact that manager Evans has nothing to learn when it comes to motivational rhetoric.

For all that, Armagh's fresh buoyancy and their desire to continue to progress against the backdrop against what is perceived to be a siege mentality triggered by their well-documented media ban could actually prove a trump card on this occasion.

Belfast Telegraph


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