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McGeeney calling for Armagh to close gap on rivals

By John Campbell

Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney, currently preparing for a crunch match against Fermanagh in Division Two of the Allianz League on Saturday, believes that his county is "well behind others" in terms of training facilities.

McGeeney, anxious to see his side move clear of the basement zone, acknowledges, however, that other issues have had to take precedence over the drive to improve amenities.

"Things such as debt remaining from bygone years have had to be cleaned up but I still think we are moving in the right direction," stated McGeeney.

"The county board are pushing hard to try and get us where we want to be but it's tough. We are well behind other counties in terms of training facilities.

"We are relying on the good nature of clubs in terms of the use of pitches and it's quite difficult because most clubs are back training at this time of the year.

"We just don't have good training facilities here."

Armagh have already lost to Meath and Laois in the league and McGeeney acknowledges that the next four weeks will prove a defining period as they will face Division Two frontrunners Tyrone and Derry.

Yet while his frustration with the current lack of training facilities is palpable, he still insists that Armagh will "get there".

"The Athletic Grounds is fantastic but we definitely need to upgrade our training facilities," declared 2002 All-Ireland winning skipper McGeeney.

"We have seven or eight teams who use the Athletic Grounds pitch and the way things are it's hard enough for one team to use it. We have our training facility at Callan Bridge and the Tullysaran club helped us out when it was under five foot of water."

McGeeney is understandably envious of the excellent facilities which teams such as Derry and Tyrone boast at Owenbeg and Garvaghey respectively, while next opponents Fermanagh revel in their well-appointed Centre of Excellence at Lissan.

But the Orchard County boss is certainly not consumed by disappointment. His immediate focus is in claiming what would be a first brace of league points at Fermanagh's expense.

"The one thing about Fermanagh - and I think Pete McGrath has instilled this - is that they are a very hard-working team," stressed McGeeney. "They play for each other, have a solid structure and Pete has got them playing a good brand of football.

"They counter-attack and defend in numbers even though they might want to say that they don't. They are going to be very hard to break down.

"They had a good run last year. We played them twice ourselves, it was a draw in one game and we beat them in the league final.

"But they are now eyeing promotion and we still have to get points on the board. But we are very hopeful."

Fermanagh lost by 3-13 to 1-10 in their league opener to Derry but showed better defensive resolve in beating Meath by 0-10 to 0-6 in their second outing.

Armagh have already shipped defeats to Meath and Laois but McGeeney is hoping to have more players.

He added: "Hopefully we will have more to choose from. Bit by bit we are getting boys back from injury but it takes time. We err on the side of caution but that's the best way to go."

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