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Expanded league would benefit game: McGeeney

Armagh 0-16 Kildare 0-10


Gripping affair: Armagh’s Aidan Nugent clashes with David Hyland

Gripping affair: Armagh’s Aidan Nugent clashes with David Hyland

�INPHO/Philip Magowan

Gripping affair: Armagh’s Aidan Nugent clashes with David Hyland

He may have been overtaken by relief rather than purring with satisfaction following this successful recovery mission against Kildare but Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney lost no time in articulating his feelings in relation to the Allianz Football League.

"I honestly feel we might be better forgetting about other competitions and playing 14 league games instead of seven," declared McGeeney.

"The league overall is our best structure at the minute, some of the games are proving top class and I think it offers the players the chance to bounce back very quickly following a setback.

"The league really offers a good indicator of where teams are at and allows players the opportunity to achieve consistency."

McGeeney's hopes of securing a place in Division One remain intact given that his side have netted four points from a possible six to date, although teams such as Roscommon, Clare and Fermanagh are now lurking on the horizon.

"I think we are going in the right direction but Division One is a tough place in which to be. If we are going to push up into it then we have to learn how to take our scoring chances on a more consistent basis," added McGeeney.

When the Orchard County capitulated to Laois last weekend, there were fears that a malaise had set in but normal business was resumed against a Kildare outfit that found the burden of battling against a howling gale in the first half too much in the end.

Quietly, imperceptibly, a younger generation of starlets - Conor O'Neill, Joe McElroy, Callum Cumiskey, Conor Turbitt and Aidan Nugent - are blending more fluently with the heavyweights in McGeeney's side as a recalibrated promotion drive assumes a much more convincing status.

By half-time the Orchard County had galloped into what on paper appeared an unassailable 0-8 to 0-1 lead with Stefan Campbell and substitute Jamie Clarke each grabbing a brace of points but when the assistance afforded by the elements was factored in, Armagh had cause to be wary entering the second half.

They had even more reason to exercise caution and hold their nerve when Clarke was red-carded in the 39th minute by referee David Coldrick.

Even though they opened up a 0-13 to 0-2 gap with Rian O'Neill (2), Stephen Sheridan, Aidan Nugent and Cumiskey on target, the home team were never out of reach and when Paddy Brophy (0-4) and stylish substitute Adam Tyrrell (0-3) spurted to the fore with generous contributions, the Kildare team's score suddenly assumed a veneer of respectability. Mark Shields hit a fine point for Armagh before hobbling off with an ankle injury but Brophy and substitute Jack Robinson ensured that the Lily Whites' reputation was not too badly tarnished when they plundered late points which translated their opponents' victory into respectable rather than overwhelming.

Kildare manager Jack O'Connor, who steered Kerry to three All-Ireland titles, made no excuses as he pondered the second blow that his side have suffered following their loss to Clare.

"I think we were beaten by a better team on this occasion," said O'Connor. "Armagh benefited from having the wind at their backs in the first half and we had a lot of leeway to make up.

"We knew that they were going to be physical and they imposed themselves on us.

"Obviously it is disappointing to have lost this game in terms of our promotion prospects but we have three home games after the break next week and our only remaining away game is just down the road against Laois.

"We would like to think that we might be able to regain some ground along the way when the action resumes."

Armagh: B Hughes; P Burns, C O'Neill, A Forker 0-1 ( f); M Shields 0-1, S Sheridan 0-1, J McElroy; N Grimley 0-1, O O'Neill 0-1; J Og Burns, S Campbell 0-2, C Cumiskey 0-1; C Turbitt, R O'Neill 0-4 (3f), A Nugent 0-2 (1f, 1mark). Subs: J Clarke 0-2 (1f) for Turbitt (27), J Morgan for C O'Neill (45), G McCabe for Nugent (68), B Donaghy for Shields (69), A McKay for Cumiskey (71).

Kildare: M Donnellan; P Kelly, M O'Grady, S Ryan; K Flynn, D Hyland, C Cavanagh; K Feely, T Moolick: P Cribbin 0-1, P Brophy 0-4, K Cribbin; N Kelly, D Flynn 0-1, J Hyland. Subs: N Flynn for O'Grady (h-t), A Tyrrell 0-3 (2f) for Hyland (44), J Byrne for Cavanagh (45), J Robinson 0-1 for Moolick (56), L Power for N Kelly (65)

Referee: David Coldrick (Meath).

Belfast Telegraph