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The Orchard are growing after past mistakes, says Grimley

 

Looking forward: Niall Grimley is sure Armagh are on the up
Looking forward: Niall Grimley is sure Armagh are on the up
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

Armagh clinched the two points they needed to secure safety in Division Two on Saturday, but the nature of their win over previously unbeaten Fermanagh was the real satisfaction behind the smiles.

Having been shocked by the Ernemen's counter-attacking approach in last summer's Ulster Championship, assistant manager Jim McCorry described afterwards that their intention had been to 'out-Fermanagh Fermanagh'.

However, towering midfielder Niall Grimley stopped short of saying their 1-9 to 0-6 victory was 'perfection'.

"I wouldn't say perfection, definitely not," said the Madden man. "We sort of knew what Fermanagh would bring in terms of their game plan, so we are just happy to come out with a win. We had a couple of draws earlier in the season which should have been wins.

"We knew coming here that we had to win so anything that got us across the line we would be happy with."

Grimley, an International Rules player in recent years, said the key to the victory was learning from some of what went on during that loss last summer.

"Personally, I learned a lot in terms of what happened last year in the Championship, so coming here I knew just to play the game, get involved and try not to focus too much on what guys are doing to you, what guys are saying to you. Just get on with the game, get on the ball, next score, whatever it is," he said.

"We learned a lot from last year, especially when we scored only seven points. We knew this was going to be a low-scoring game so I was happy enough."

The coaching job over the fortnight leading into the Fermanagh game showed a growing maturity among the Orchard County side.

When confronted by teams which adopted a defensive system in the past, they had faltered.

With Down looming in the Ulster quarter-final on May 19, they may be tempted to continue in the same vein from now on as Paddy Tally's men are almost certain to continue with their defensive approach.

"We had to adjust compared to playing against other sides. That was almost like a different team, the way we had to play," said Grimley.

"We have been working on it all week in training, we knew what Fermanagh were going to bring so what they brought we had to match it, and more.

"We seemed to match it in the second half and then we controlled it and kept the ball and then worked on our scores.

"Down will definitely be something similar and whatever they throw at us we will have to take it. Whatever it is, if it is 15 men behind the ball, 13 men behind the ball, we will adjust and that's what good teams do.

"You see the likes of the Kerrys and Mayos and Dublins, they are able to adjust and switch boys in and out, do whatever it takes to win."

He continued: "Whatever is thrown at us, hopefully we will be fit to deal with it, match it, whatever it is and more, progress and see what happens from there."

Armagh had been down Stephen Sheridan and James Morgan due to suspension, but they were able to welcome back Brendan Donaghy - who was outstanding in defence - Aidan Forker, Ethan Rafferty - who was introduced and bagged a goal almost with his first play - and Jarlath Óg Burns, who stood out as man of the match.

So effective was his contribution that his direct opponent, Eoin Donnelly - one of the highest rated midfielders in the province - was substituted.

"It's good that we have a squad that we are competing for places," said Grimley.

"Every session, it is like a Championship match.

"Everyone wants to play so you are hopefully going to learn from that. If you are not being challenged then you won't get better. You won't rise to the challenge.

"Jarly Óg is a top man. It is unlucky for Stephen Sheridan not to be in there.

"I know what happened in the last game but Jarly Óg came in there and was brilliant. He was everywhere, making blocks, catching balls, so it was good to have him.

"When we come back into training on Tuesday, whenever it is, we have Cork next week and then we are preparing for the summer."

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