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Now long-serving secretary quits troubled Armagh

Armagh's tribulations on the field of play when they were annihilated by Tyrone in the Power NI Dr McKenna Cup on Wednesday night (5-16 to 0-7) have now been complemented by upheaval away from the playing arena.

Long-serving secretary Patrick Og Nugent, son of former county board chairman the late Patsy Nugent, has stood down from his paid post as secretary but will continue to perform some of his duties in a voluntary capacity.

Nugent's change of status is understood to have emanated from a directive from Croke Park that will now see a significant shake-up in the Armagh administrative set-up.

One of the best-known officials in the province, Nugent has been at the core of a number of initiatives launched by the county board and it is believed the board is keen to avail of his experience for the future.

A source close to the board last night confirmed that while Armagh is currently undergoing "a turbulent period", efforts are being made to steady the ship both on and off the field of play.

"Patrick Og Nugent has given sterling service to Armagh and we have no doubt that he will continue to do so. He has a vast knowledge of how the day to day business of a county board should be conducted and obviously his input in a voluntary capacity will be welcome. There is much work to be done but with everyone pulling together progress can be achieved," said the source.

"We are going through a turbulent period but hopefully we will come out the other end better and wiser."

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Like most counties, Armagh have encountered their share of financial headaches but it is understood that under the guidance of treasurer Gerard Boyle headway is being made in meeting outstanding debts.

Boyle, who is a member of the Carrickcruppen club, brings considerable experience to his post in his role as a forensic accountant.

Michael Geoghegan from the Middletown club is currently the acting chairman, deputising for Paul Duggan.

Geoghegan is striving to lead by example in his bid to put Armagh on a more solid footing, a task that has not been rendered any easier following the team's woeful performance against Tyrone on Wednesday night.

Manager Paul Grimley is facing sharp criticism from several sources but emphasises that Armagh "will pick up the pieces and not allow the defeat to see them fall away altogether".

Grimley, along with his management team – although Kieran McGeeney is thought to be still on honeymoon – has already conducted an in-depth assessment of the team's performance and the manager himself has accepted full responsibility for the below-par performance.

"It was hugely disappointing and I take full responsibility for it. A 24-point defeat does nothing for belief or confidence. I think the best way we can get this out of our system is by having a good, hard training session and by getting the boys back into the right frame of mind again," insists the Orchard County boss. It is understood the county's declining fortunes were discussed at a meeting last night.

An extended administrative set-up is expected to be established and strong emphasis will also be placed on fund-raising.

Arrangements have already been confirmed for an outdoor concert at the Athletic Grounds on May 31 featuring country star Derek Ryan.

"Very few county boards are not confronted by financial problems at this point in time because of the effects of the recession and emigration but hopefully we will maintain our focus in terms of fund-raising," added the county board source.

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