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Kieran McGeeney can spur Armagh to success just like he did as 2002 All Ireland winning captain, says Benny Tierney

 

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Lead role: manager Kieran McGeeney is aiming to guide Armagh to fresh glory

Lead role: manager Kieran McGeeney is aiming to guide Armagh to fresh glory

�INPHO/Philip Magowan

Benny Tierney

Benny Tierney

INPHO

Lead role: manager Kieran McGeeney is aiming to guide Armagh to fresh glory

The current GAA lockdown has witnessed a proverbial explosion of nostalgia to date.

The present may have nothing to afford us in terms of action, the future is very much an unknown quantity but the past tends to provide us all with a feast of memories, some inspirational and others perhaps distinctly unpalatable.

No one knows this better than 2002 Armagh All-Ireland winning goalkeeper Benny Tierney. While pleased to have been part of that all-conquering Orchard County side, Tierney understandably relishes the flashbacks to the greatest day in their history while at the same time subscribing enthusiastically to the notion that, after a succession of false dawns, further progress is now possible.

Indeed he is convinced that his 2002 All-Ireland winning captain Kieran McGeeney can make Armagh a potent force again.

"Sometimes when you look back at matches in their entirety you tend to see things through a different lens and in this respect I have come to appreciate even more fully the role Kieran played as Armagh captain in 2002," says Tierney.

"He was the ultimate ball-winner, he could pick out our key forwards like Oisin McConville and Ronan Clarke with astute passes and he led by superb example. Don't forget, there were no short kick-outs from the goalkeepers then, we generally had to fire the ball straight down the field and it was a case of may the best man win after that.

"Kieran used to tell me to put the ball over his head even though he was playing at centre-half-back but even then he was still able to win more than his share of invaluable first-phase possession.

"Fast forward to the present and in his role as manager he is yet again setting the tone for Armagh's performances by his passion, belief and commitment."

Prior to the lockdown, Armagh had forced themselves into a promising position from which to gain promotion to the top tier of the Allianz League but with outstanding fixtures to be played against Roscommon and Clare and no guarantee that the league will be completed, they might still be thwarted in their bid to move up in the world.

This, though, does not deter Tierney from adhering to the belief that McGeeney's men are very much on an upward trajectory.

"When you look at players like the O'Neill brothers Oisin and Rian, you can see that the team has become much more attack-minded and I believe that this is all down to Kieran," insists Tierney. "He has not been afraid to introduce new players and they have certainly shown that they are not out of their depth.

"It's important that players have self-belief when they step up into inter-county football, this is always a good quality especially when the chips are down.

"You would have to admit that over the course of recent years football had become laden with negativity but now there is a much greater level of positivity."

The GAA, unfortunately, in common with other sports offers nothing more than a blank canvas right now as the wait continues to hear the outcome of the Management Committee's decisions in relation to the staging of the All-Ireland Championship and hopefully those remaining games in the Allianz League which have a direct bearing on promotion and relegation issues.

The committee's deliberations will, of course, be influenced by Croke Park's Covid-19 Advisory Group as well as by determinations from the health bodies and governments on both sides of the border.

In the meantime, fans must continue to exercise patience although not surprisingly Tierney, a primary school principal, has his own views on this.

"For the most part, sure we know that fans love to have a good moan," he smiles mischievously.

"I was talking to someone who attended the recent league game between Down and Longford in Newry and he said he wouldn't go to another match after what he had watched. But I bet you now he would pay £100 to see a game like that this Sunday!"

Belfast Telegraph