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There will be no away day blues for us in Laois: Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney


By John Campbell

The prospect of having to fulfil an All-Ireland qualifier tie away from home normally fills most managers with a grim sense of foreboding.

However, beleaguered Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney appears to be an exception to this rule.

As his team prepare to face Laois at O'Moore Park, Portlaoise, tomorrow (3.30pm), McGeeney, far from being weighed down by apprehension, positively purrs with anticipation. "I'm looking forward to going there and so too are the players," says McGeeney.

"They love playing on a big pitch and as well as that I have happy memories of games I have been involved in there with Na Fianna, Kildare and Armagh over the years. Hopefully it will prove a happy hunting ground for us on this occasion."

But while he relishes the prospect of seeing his side make amends for their depressing league campaign and Ulster Championship setback against Cavan, the Orchard County boss recognises that Laois, who lost to Dublin in the Leinster championship, will pose a tough test for his players.

"Laois will have players back and I expect them to be stronger," he stresses.

"This will be championship football with an edge to it. I think we will see a different showing from each side on this occasion."

And he is anxious that his side should minimise the kind of mistakes which contributed to his team's downfall against Cavan.

"We dropped one ball short against Cavan and they went up the field from there, won a '45 which they converted and then from what were probably our two worst kick-outs of the game immediately afterwards they scored another two points so that was three points in all coming from one mistake," says McGeeney.

"Things like that go against you when you are playing against counter-attacking teams and Laois showed they can do this when they played against Dublin.

"That's the way Gaelic football has gone. Despite all the emphasis on massed defences scoring seems to have gone up in games. A lot of scores now come from set-pieces and this is something that I don't think many people realise. "

Now, though, he concedes that the bar has been raised for his side as they face up to their most high-pressure of the game of the year.

"We need to get our scoring ratio up to around 1-15 and if we can do that then we will be in with a good chance of winning," he concludes.

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