ARMAGH will have a mountain to climb when they travel to Croke Park on Sunday to face Dublin in round four of the national football league.
Paddy O’Rourke’s team will still be licking their wounds following last Saturday night’s defeat at the hands of a mobile Mayo team, and although the metropolitans play a more direct no nonsense type of game than the westerners it will take a mighty effort to get any thing from this Sunday’s encounter at Jones Road.
Armagh fans would be concerned at the lack of penetration shown by the former Ulster champions last weekend.
All the drive and commitment was there but with big games still to come following the visit to Croke Park the return of injured players can’t come soon enough.
Last weekend’s action in the NFL conformed to all the pre-match billing, Kerry who had been shocked by Armagh in Tralee recently returned to winning ways defeating Down in Newry, and Armagh’s effort against the kingdom set them up for a fall against James Horan’s side at the weekend.
Dublin opened their league account last Sunday against Justin McNulty’s Laois team and, although it remains to be seen if Pat Gilroy’s outfit maintain the high standards they set themselves last season, they may prove too strong for Armagh on Sunday.
Relegation for Paddy O’Rourke’s team is still a distinct possibility but Down’s poor form to date and the fact that Laois and Donegal are both beatable could throw the orchard county a lifeline.
With Kieran McKeever set to return from suspension and the Crossmaglen players, in particular Jamie Clarke and Aaron Kernan, available from late March new hope could emerge before Tyrone are challenged in June’s Ulster Championship tie at the Athletic Grounds.
Another gutsy display will be expected from Armagh on Sunday, playing at HQ could provide extra motivation but, in what could be a close encounter, the Dubs are taken to shade it by the odd point.