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Orchard in full bloom after victory over the Red Hands

Armagh manager Paul Grimley believes that his team's recent qualifier win over Tyrone provided defining evidence that they really are on an upward curve.

By John Campbell

The Orchard County may have overcome Cavan and held Monaghan to a draw before losing to them in a replay and subsequently overcame Tyrone and Roscommon in the qualifiers, but Grimley views the victory over the Red Hands as the most significant step in his team's development.

Yet caution underpins his thinking as he prepares for Saturday's Round 4B qualifier at Croke Park against a Meath side anxious to offer atonement for their Leinster final collapse against Dublin.

"I thought that the result against Tyrone showed we had turned the corner," declares Grimley. "When I was assistant manager in 2002 we beat them on the way to winning the All-Ireland title but to be honest we have not had that many wins over them in important matches down through the years.

"I thought that this most recent qualifier win was something of a landmark for us and proved we are on an upward curve."

"But we know that Meath will be very keen to redress the balance following the Leinster final and they will want to put one over on us."

With no additional injuries to report and the distinct possibility that he will now have greater cover on the bench with Kieran Toner and Finian Moriarty understood to be fully fit again, Grimley will sent his side into action against the Royal County urging them to replicate, if not improve upon, the performance they delivered against Mickey Harte's side.

"We certainly don't believe we are favourites," insists Grimley. "We have only to look back to the league when we beat Laois and Meath before we fell to Donegal and Monaghan and now both these sides are in Division One.

"And yet to have beaten Tyrone in Omagh meant a great deal to us. But the boys know that they must build on this if they are to have any chance of making it into the All-Ireland quarter-finals."

Grimley concedes that his team have offered false dawns in a championship context in recent years in the wake of their extended dominance of the Ulster series in particular which saw seven titles captured between 1999 and 2008.

And when his side were relegated to Division Three of the league earlier this year, the prospect of even modest championship progress looked distinctly remote.

But Grimley still clung to the conviction that when some of his walking wounded returned to duty his side would carry a greater cutting edge.

This indeed has proved to be the case but now it would appear that Meath, where Grimley spent a stint as coach, are particularly keen to usher their former mentor through the championship exit door.

His rejuvenated team, though, have no intention of going quietly.

"The way to create confidence is to win matches. This gives players belief in themselves but the outcome of our match against Tyrone in particular will have no bearing on how Saturday's game pans out.

"Still, this is a match we are relishing – Croke Park is where you want to be at this time of the year," adds the Armagh manager.

Belfast Telegraph


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