Kieran McGeeney's slow but steady progression is the perfect example of why GAA managers need time 1 year ago

Kieran McGeeney's slow but steady progression is the perfect example of why GAA managers need time

Geezer knows best.

"Don't get ahead of yourselves, it's only January, it's the first game of the season... blah, blah blah."


Let's just nip this in the bud right away.

No one is saying Armagh are going to win the All-Ireland or that Dublin are now certainly going to get relegated to Division Two after last weekend's result - of course one match so early in the season couldn't possibly define any of that.

However, there is no doubt whatsoever, that the Orchard County's emphatic and historic win over the capital on Saturday night, was a collision between one team on the rise, and one team on the wane.


When Kieran McGeeney was first appointed as manager of Armagh in 2015, they were playing their football in Division Three, while Dublin were on course to regain another All-Ireland title, the first of six in a row.

The juxtaposition between the two sides was plain to see; the Ulster team were seen as a squad that was well past it, stuck in the glory days of the early noughties, and resorting to appointing a legendary past player, to try and cling on to some semblance of of their previous success.

Now, seven years, two promotions, and spade-fulls of hard work later, Armagh are dining at the top table once again, playing under the glorious lights of Croke Park, and going toe-to-toe against royalty itself.


When you shoot at the king, you better not miss, and miss they didn't.

McGeeney's side dismantled Dublin with an exciting brand of attacking football, relentless work ethic and pulsating enthusiasm.

It was plain to see that the pride was back in Armagh and that there was nowhere else any of those lads would rather have been than fighting it out under those Saturday night lights.


That hasn't always been the case though, as the Ulster side has had to deal with high profile names opting out of the panel when things were tough, most notably Jamie Clarke, who was originally pinned to be their next messiah.

McGeeney however, simply put his energy elsewhere, focusing on the controllables, and trusting his own process. While everyone in the media only deems success to be silverware, the Mullaghbawn native systematically and calculatedly chalked up little victories that ensured progress was being made.

Getting out of Division Three was paramount, because the longer you are there, the harder it is to break out, while getting through Division Two was obviously the next step, securing their chance to play top flight football on a regular basis.

In 2019, Armagh won their first Ulster championship game in five years when they beat Down in extra time, a drought that could have seen McGeeney directed towards the exit door, but the county board believed in the progress being made.


Next up was securing their place in Division one - they couldn't be a one season wonder - they had to mix it with the best and survive if they were to reap the benefits of first-class competition and carry that momentum into the championship.

Last weekend, in their first game of their second season at the top level, they put on a performance that was years in the making, beating the once unbeatable Dublin, in their home turf.

New stars have emerged and other counties are envious, only dreaming of the damage they could inflict on teams if they had a Rian O'Neill or Jarlath Óg Burns in their set-up.

Not to mention the inclusion of one of the very top names in the game, legend himself, Kieran Donaghy.

The Kingdom star plays a pivotal role in the backroom team.

Getting him was another stroke of genius by Geezer, and their attacking, kicking game has flourished since his arrival.

Jason Duffy's sublime chip over the head of Evan Comerford was the icing on top of what was already a sweet, sweet victory cake.

Many will say that he didn't mean to lob the Dublin goalkeeper, and that it was down to luck, but fortune favours the brave, and Armagh are simply being rewarded for their courage in not only selecting Kieran McGeeney as their manager, but keeping him there, even when success didn't always look certain.

Now, that's not to say that the pressure still isn't on the 2002 All-Ireland winning captain, because the next step on his ladder of progression is now silverware - whether it's the Ulster championship or at least an All-Ireland semi-final appearance - the Orchard County have big ambitions, and therefore have big demands that need to be met.