As Armagh prepare for the 2015 Season opener against Tyrone in Bank of Ireland McKenna Cup, Stefan Forker took time to chat with ArmaghGAA.net
With a new squad and a new manager in place Stefan can’t wait to get going again “I think the whole squad is looking forward to the game. It’s great to get a bit of competitive action and get back on the field and hopefully get Christmas out of the system! It seems much earlier this year but it will be nice to get a feel of the ball again.”
Asked on how preparations have been going with new Armagh Manager and former All-Ireland winning Captain for the County in 2002 “Kieran leaves no stone unturned and outside of what he has done as a player he is a top manager and we are lucky to have him coaching us. He wants us to get better and puts in place the mechanisms to do that and there’s nothing more we as players can ask for.”
Some quarters have seen the game as a case of revenge for both teams. Tyrone won quite comfortably in Omagh during last years McKenna Cup however Armagh gained the upper hand by ending Tyrone’s Summer early after dispatching them out of the All-Ireland Qualifiers, Stefan explains “I don’t think it’s a case of revenge but the result last year was very embarrassing for all of us who were involved and a very low point. We hope to be in a better place this time around and we would certainly be hoping that the game will be much more competitive. I think revenge may be on Tyrone players minds so we will have to be ready for that.”
With a blend of young, older and new in the 26 man squad and Stefan a seasoned Inter-County Senior, he believes competition for places have never been as high “The younger fellas are well fit to look after themselves and I have no doubt they will show that in the McKenna Cup. They will be in competition with myself and the rest of the older players for places which is all the better for the squad and keeps everybody pushing on. I would just say to them to be patient and to be aware that there will be setbacks and disappointments along the way and to be mentally ready to respond to them in the right way.”
After the success of last years great run to the Quarter Final Stefan isn’t being fooled that its a given right to be playing at the later stages each year “I think there has been a lot of talk within Armagh and by the papers that we can not listen to and get caught up in. Ultimately it was one decent year and we have to make sure we back it up. That is done on the training pitch and through working hard consistently and if we do that then there is no reason why we can’t have another successful year.”
Stefan has set his clear goals for the season to come and is chomping at the bit to get started in Sundays Season opener. “I want to nail down a starting place on this team and make sure my name is on the team sheet every time Armagh play. I want to get back to making a habit of scoring again and contributing to the scoresheet every time I take the field. Collectively I hope Armagh can take some silverware home this year and give the fans another enjoyable year following the county.”
Stefan has been named in the 26 man squad for Sundays game against Tyrone and we wish him and the Armagh Senior Football Team the very best of luck this Season.