Where is Armagh Club Football, now?.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

FANS of gaelic football in Armagh were disappointed to see their county side lose out on promotion to Division Two and they were further disappointed to see the county exit both the Ulster Championship early and later the All-Ireland quarter-finals after poor displays even though their qualifier run was excellent.

When the Ulster Club Championship started (after County Finals were over), fans had high hopes that our Junior, Intermediate and Senior representatives might lift periods and take home some provincial silverware.

Sadly, it was not to be as three Armagh representatives were beaten, even though each was in contention to varying degrees, in the first game which was the Ulster Quarter final.

This situation is not a major shock as Armagh clubs haven't fared well in their Ulster campaigns over the years.

At Senior level only three teams - Crossmaglen (10), Clan na Gael (3) and Mullaghbawn (1) have won Ulster Club Senior titles while no club from Armagh has never lifted the Ulster Intermediate Club title with, if my memory serves me well, on Culloville ever competed in the Intermediate final.

At Junior level, only two teams - An Port Mor and Clonmore have won the Ulster Junior title.

A county title is a major honour for any club but perhaps we all in Armagh, with the exception of possibly Crossmaglen, have failed to recognize that the Ulster series is not just a continuation of one's 'county campaign' but more a significant step up in quality, no matter who the opposition is, that requires a higher grade of preparation for the respective provincial games.

The re-structuring of the leagues this season has certainly created the most competitive campaigns within both league and championship for a long time with more teams than ever before in line for titles or promotion than ever before.

We cannot rest on our laurels and must implement more ways for making our teams competitive enough to be confident in striving for a County, Provincial and All-Ireland club title in any one year.

Where is Armagh football, now? For me, it's at a crossroads where one road just takes us along the road of complacency as we are content to soldier on at the level of competitiveness we are at.

The other road demands efforts to increase to a higher quality of administration, preparation and quality from all our clubs.

We must look at our structures and make them even better, we must upgrade the quality of our coaching abilities and we must arrest and address the HAEMORRHAGING away of many young players from our clubs by emphasizing winning over development.

We must engage in identifying young players for the future (development) which means more stay and play our games rather than engage in selecting (winning mentality) which is forcing young players to quit our games (mostly around 12-13 years) which eventually sees clubs unable to field juvenile, minor and even senior teams.

An audit looking at the delivery of the development of players within clubs should be comprehensive and be rigorously employed to produce more not less quality players within or county and its club.

As a result of Armagh's demise, the following are the three Ulster Club Championships semi-finalists:

- Senior:

Slaughtneil (Derry) v Kilcar (Donegal).

Cavan Gaels v Derrygonnelly (Fermanagh).


- Intermediate:

Milford (Donegal) v Rostrevor (Down).

Moy (Tyrone v Newbridge (Derry).


- Junior:

Tattyreagh (Tyrone) v Naomh Colmcille (Donegal).

Doire Trasna (Derry) v Belnaleck (Fermanagh).


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