If luck favors the brave, Armagh manager duo Kieran McGuiny and Kieran Donaghy have reason to hope this will continue to prove it right as their team ramps up preparations for the All-Ireland quarter-final against Galway at Croke Park on Sunday of the week.
In the 13 years spanning his Kildare and Orchard County management career, it’s doubtful that McGuiny has faced the many difficult selection decisions that have been his lot lately.
Replacing Ethan Rafferty as goaltender ahead of Blaine Hughes, McGuinney was willing to sacrifice a strong outfield player, but when it came to replacing Tiernan Kelly, Niall Grimley and Ciaran McKean in one fell swoop due to injuries, the line-up failed. some kind of transformation.
And when it was announced at 11:00 last Sunday that Conneir McKean, who had been removed from the playing arena on a stretcher only a week before the Tyrone match, would replace Conor O’Neal on defense, everyone was relieved in anticipation. that the former regained full physical form.
But Makin failed a fitness test just before the game. which led to O’Neal being drafted again with Stefan Campbell man of the match against Tyrone in his first starting role in some time, again getting the nod as center half forward.
However, despite the challenges they faced for three weeks, McGuinney and Donaghy remained calm and focused as they aimed to take Armagh to the All-Ireland semi-finals.
No complaints, hand wringing, teeth grinding. Instead, just calmly accepting the whims of the sport.
As his squad prepares to take on a Galway side who have been promoted to the Second Division and have thrived under manager Porick Joyce, the Arma couple remain hopeful that their playing resources will be boosted before the competition.
With Jason Duffy and Aidan Nugent putting on a brilliant display ahead of Donegal and Conor Turbitt in charge with two spectacular points when called off the bench, Arma appears to have the forward resources to harass the tribesmen’s rearguard.
Indeed, their attack looked especially sharp in victories over Tyrone and Donegal. and the overall spread of scorers within the team was a source of solace for McGuinney and his management team.
There were fears that Donegal were about to take over the game last Sunday when they reacted harshly to Armagh’s goal in the first minute, but before e interval, the home team regained control of the game, which they maintained until the final whistle, to secure a safe passage to the next round.
But Orchard County doesn’t really care Realizing that the attack in Galway has been in shape lately and, since Shane Walsh in particular could be a big threat, Arma will be on the lookout.
“We’re working really hard right now because we know we’re going to be facing the cream of the crop,” assistant manager Donaghy insists.
“I think we got the toughest draw we could get against Tyrone and Donegal and now Galway will be waiting for us at Croke Park.
“It’s as difficult as it gets. In particular, last Sunday the crowd at the Athletic Grounds inspired the players and helped them to increase our overall score to 3-17.
“Now we will look for the same fans to support the guys from Croke Park.
“We will definitely need all the support we can get and we hope to repay the fans with another winning performance.”
If Donaghy’s commitment to Armagh is unwavering, then his faith in manager McGuinney is absolute.
“He has always been very open to our ideas and the things we are considering,” he explains.
“I constantly ask him for feedback and he is very honest.
“Basically, this is what I want as someone who is trying to learn from him and understand what a coach and selector can bring to a group.
“So yeah, he’s just great at communicating withit.”