Kieran McGeeney hits out at Pat Spillane

Kieran McGeeney has intimated Pat Spillane tries to influence referees in his role as an RTÉ pundit.

Confirming Jamie Clarke will not be available to him this year, the Armagh manager did not name Kerry legend Spillane by name but referenced his infamous “puke football” jibe at Tyrone in 2003.

Spillane had been heavily critical of McGeeney’s tactics in Armagh’s Ulster quarter-final defeat to Donegal last summer when he described his formation as being “clueless” and tantamount to “damage limitation”.

McGeeney lashed: “It’s unfortunate we listen to what would you call them... experts, I suppose. Is that the best word I’m allowed to use? Even the one who likes to talk about puke football, he tries to influence and nobody can see that. Nobody can catch on he has only one description for only one type of football. We’re worse than mad for actually listening to it and writing about it and listening to him but that’s the way it goes. He tells us that’s football.”

Armagh lost to Cavan in Sunday’s McKenna Cup opener, which saw five players red carded, three from Cavan, and also featured four yellow cards and two black cards. McGeeney accepted some of the off-the-ball challenges were “stupid” but also reckons pundits are influencing how Ulster derbies are being refereed.

“I hate Ulster using that as an excuse for poor football and when we talk about it like that, I think the referees referee it in a different way. I see a lot of teams on the other side of the border playing a more physical game and being allowed to play that game. There is constant talk about Ulster football and its type.

“Now, don’t get me wrong – we have teams who are always going to be competitive and aggressive. But as long as it’s refereed right, that’s the way football should be made.”

McGeeney revealed star forward Clarke will return to the US once Crossmaglen’s All-Ireland Club championship campaign ends, which is a huge blow to his plans.

Meanwhile, New Laois boss Mick Lillis has hailed the influence of veterans Kevin Meaney and Ross Munnelly, who have committed to another season of inter-county duty.

Munnelly is the only surviving member of the last Laois team to win a Leinster championship in 2003. He was Tomás Ó Flatharta’s captain last year but despite suggestions he might call time on his career, the Arles-Kilcruise man has returned to the fold.

The forward played no part in Sunday’s one-point Bord na Móna O’Byrne Cup victory over UCD at Park Ratheniska but Meaney was introduced to considerable effect at the beginning of the final quarter, scoring two points.

“(Ross) is very positive around the place. He’s a great influence on lads, a fantastic role model for younger lads coming into the panel, for kids looking in, for anybody,” Lillis said


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