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McGeeney is calling on Armagh to be ruthless

 

Big goal: Kieran McGeeney wants his team to finish better
Big goal: Kieran McGeeney wants his team to finish better
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney will tonight put the finishing touches to his line-up for Saturday's all-important All-Ireland football qualifier against Monaghan at St Tiernach's Park, Clones (7pm).

And it is safe to say that uppermost in his thinking will be the desire to see his men hit the net against Malachy O'Rourke's side in what promises to be a tension-laden shoot-out.

In what is his fifth Championship season in charge, McGeeney can only reflect on a single victory - that was against Down last month - while O'Rourke has come tantalisingly close to bringing Monaghan into an All-Ireland final on occasions without quite making it into the showpiece fixture.

Thus both managers will be under huge pressure to provide evidence that their teams are capable of making significant headway this summer, during which the spotlight will remain firmly on Dublin's drive for five successive All-Ireland titles.

When Donegal humbled Tyrone in the first Ulster semi-final, Jamie Brennan's fourth-minute goal lacerated the Red Hands' morale, and when Cavan upset the odds in sending Monaghan tumbling from the Ulster Championship, it was a Martin Reilly goal from a fifth-minute penalty that effectively cushioned their path to victory.

In contrast, when Armagh were outgunned by Cavan in the Ulster Championship semi-final replay, they missed five gilt-edged chances of landing goals and McGeeney is adamant that he does not want to see a repeat of this on Saturday.

"When you have five goal chances and you don't take any of them, it's always going to be tough for you," maintained McGeeney.

"The players knew themselves that they were missing easy chances in that game and that could have affected them."

While there is still some doubt surrounding the fitness of Jarlath Burns, and with Stephen Sheridan still unavailable, McGeeney may be forced to amend his line-up for a match that neither side can afford to lose.

Indeed, defeat for either could have serious repercussions further down the line.

"We have to take our chances, it's as simple as that," insisted McGeeney.

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