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Kernan aiming to lead by example as Armagh bid to survive

By John Campbell

Aaron Kernan never dreamt at the outset of the Allianz Football League that he would be entrusted with the demanding task of attempting to oversee Armagh's survival bid in Division Two.

Indeed it was only after Crossmaglen Rangers fell to St Brigid's in the All-Ireland club championship semi-final that Kernan linked up with the Orchard County squad again and by then a backs to the wall struggle to retain their slot had already been mounted.

As he prepares to lead the side against Galway on Sunday in the absence of suspended skipper Ciaran McKeever, Kernan shoots from the hip in outlining the enormity of their task.

"We need a massive performance in this one, nothing less will do," raps Kernan.

"Not only do we require a win but we must hope that a couple of other results go our way.

"Galway have an outside chance of going up and they will come to us with nothing less than a win on their minds."

The loss of McKeever is a blow to an Armagh side that is largely bereft of experience.

The St Patrick's Cullyhanna clubman has been a driving force at wing-back and manager Paul Grimley accepts that his team's task is made all the more difficult because of his absence.

"Ciaran is a very solid player and is a great leader. We could certainly be doing with him for this game.

"I know that the rest of the lads are ready to step up to the mark and I hope that our supporters get behind them. We would like to keep our position in Division Two if at all possible," states Grimley.

Stand-in skipper Kernan believes that Armagh need to get off to a good start and sustain their effort if they are to have any chance of avoiding the drop into Division Three.

"We certainly cannot afford to find ourselves in a position from which we would be chasing the game.

"Galway have a lot of experience and could punish us and we have to make sure that we keep mistakes to a minimum and hold our shape," stresses the cultured half-back.

Galway manager Alan Mulholland has been looking for more consistency from his side and can turn to players like Gary Sice, Seanie Armstrong, Finian Hanley, Paul Conroy and Martin Meehan to set the tone for what he hopes will be a significant victory.

"We know that Armagh are very hungry for the points but so are we," he says.

"A win would keep us in with a slight shout of going up but there are a lot of imponderables and the answers to these will in all probability be provided on Sunday," adds Mulholland, himself a former Galway player of note.

The crucial showdown is at the Athletic Grounds on Sunday (3pm).

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