Despite the fact Armagh were relegated to the Third Division of the National Football League earlier this season Paul Grimley’s team, galvanised under a new coaching regime implemented by Kieran McGeeney, are just one game away from reaching an All-Ireland quarter-final.
The Ulster men travel to Croke Park on Saturday to face a Meath team smarting from their heavy defeat at the hands of Dublin in the recent Leinster final, the Royal County have like Armagh been going through a similar transition period of late and little is expected to separate the teams.
For the first time in this seasons Championship campaign the Orchard County will enter a game as favourites , recent wins over Tyrone and Roscommon will have added new pressures for a side who are no longer flying below the radar.
Should Armagh win they will face Donegal in a last eight, a game Grimley’s side would relish. Monaghan, who lost to Donegal in the Ulster decider, will also play at the Jones Road venue as part of a double header against Kildare.
Many similarities have been made between Armagh and Meath over the past number of seasons, at the height of their success both teams placed a big emphasis on their physical prowess yet laterally neither have been able to make a breakthrough at provincial level.
Armagh have closed ranks since the unsavoury incident which marred their Provincial opener against Cavan, the players are fully focused on doing their talking on the pitch and have improved greatly and would appear to be playing more as a unit.
The so called “ultra defensive system” and cavalier football would appear to assigned to the history books. A bonus for the fans is the fact several new scorers have stepped forward this season. Although Jamie Clarke would still appear to be the main threat for opposing defences, Stefan Campbell, Tony Kernan, Rory Grugan and Stefan Forker have all chipped in with crucial scores this season.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Aaron Kernan start against Meath, the Crossmaglen player has been used sparingly since returning from injury, but Kernan’s experience in Croke park could prove crucial in reaching the last eight.