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New spirit of unity can now stand Armagh in good stead: Forker

By John Campbell

Long-serving Armagh ace Aidan Forker believes that the fresh spirit which prevails within the team can help to sustain their bid to make it into Division Two.

Sligo, preparing to play their first league game under new boss Cathal Corey, will be Sunday's visitors to the Athletic Grounds which, while a fortress for some considerable time for the orchard county side, is no longer deemed a secure stronghold.

And it was the gut-wrenching defeat to Tipperary in a crucial league encounter last year - when Michael Quinlivan landed the last of his three goals in added time to effectively consign Kieran McGeeney's side to at least one more term in the lower division - which emphasised that home advantage is no guarantee of netting league points.

Yet Armagh showed defiance and resilience in recovering from this setback to make it into the All-Ireland quarter-finals, where they were overwhelmed by Tyrone (3-17 to 0-8).

Now, as McGeeney prepares to put the finishing touches to his preparations for this weekend's eagerly-awaited encounter at training tonight, Forker is adamant that his side will provide a united front in striving to improve their status.

"The spirit that we have now might not always have been there but the players are looking out for each other and you can see this in our performances," points out Forker.

"Obviously we fielded a much-changed team in the McKenna Cup semi-final against Donegal on Saturday night but on Sunday we would expect to be along more familiar lines."

"We have been reflecting on the way we are playing currently and looking at areas in which we feel we can improve. I think we showed against Derry that we are more conscious in relation to how we are playing as we protected our possession better in that game and showed a more disciplined approach."

"The crowd might grumble at times but possession is certainly nine-tenths of the law.

"At this level in particular, if you give the ball away you are really going to get hurt."

Ben Crealy, Brendan Donaghy, Andrew Murnin and Forker himself have been nursing injuries lately and while manager McGeeney is anxious to have his strongest possible side on duty, he won't be taking unnecessary risks.

"We have a big panel of players with guys in there who are chomping at the bit to earn their place," adds Forker.

"A number of them are making their pitch for regular recognition."

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