Armstrong backs Joyce for season

11 August 2018; Seán Armstrong of Galway during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship semi-final match between Dublin and Galway at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

By Oisin Cusack

FORMER Galway player Sean Armstrong does not believe Padraic Joyce is under any pressure ahead of Galway’s return to the National Football League.

Galway travel to Kerry tomorrow in the first of three round- robin games in the new split format that will also see them face Roscommon and Dublin in the Allianz Football League Division 1 South.

Despite three losses in a row when the action resumed last year, excluding a walkover against Covid-19 hit Sligo, Armstrong is adamant that Joyce is under no extra demands to deliver this year.

“I don’t think there can be any pressure. I mean, he came in as a new manager last year and he was only getting to know the players before the pandemic hit,” said Armstrong.

“This year has been no better. You weren’t allowed to have any collective training sessions. There were only a few weeks before a serious test against Kerry. It would be unfair if the County Board or fans were putting any pressure on Padraic.”

The pressure on Joyce stems from the savage 15 point beating they received at the hands of Mayo last year. It was Galway’s biggest loss in the league to Mayo for 68 years and Joyce himself described the game as the “most embarrassing” of his career.

Armstrong believes the Galway County Board must give Joyce the time needed to get to know the team.

“Galway have to give him another full year at the very least. Padraic has a serious football head on him and he’s a super tactician.

“It would be foolish for Galway to say it hasn’t worked out and we need to look for someone else. “He has a team in transition. There’s a lot of youth coming through and a lot of senior players have stepped away so he ha basically a new team.”

The National League will be played on a regional basis this year owing to the risks of Covid- 19. Galway will join Roscommon, Dublin and Kerry with the top two advancing to the semi-finals and the bottom two going into relegation semi-finals.

Armstrong is not a fan of the new format. “I know it’s been pushed on the GAA but the reason I wouldn’t be a fan is that it’s unbelievably easy to get relegated from your division,” he said.

“You have three matches. If you finish in the bottom two of your section you have one match left that determines whether or not you are relegated. I think that is unfair.”

The revised format based on geography has thrown Galway into what many believe is the group of death.

“They’ve got Dublin and Kerry which are the two hardest fixtures they could have got. If Galway don’t win one of those games, you’re looking at a relegation playoff,” he added.

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