Armagh will face Galway on Sunday at the Athletic Grounds (3pm) in what could be a defining moment in Kieran McGeeney’s tenure.
The former All Ireland winning captain would have learned little about his sides recovery from the defeat against Donegal when the Orchard men demolished Wicklow last time out.
Although the Tribesmen will arrive in Armagh having participated in what has been described as a terrible provincial semi against Mayo,they will be confident they can outscore a home side still attempting to find a recognised style.
Galway will arrive full of running, they will take the game to McGeeney’s side, and are unlikely to be defensive, based on the knowledge that they could win a “shoot out.”
The only goal for Kieran McGeeney at the moment is to reach the next round, the Mullaghbawn native would be well aware his County hasn’t tasted Ulster glory at Minor, Under 21 or Senior since 2007, and although the Orchard coaching Academies boosted by the participation of several former All Ireland medal winners are a necessary strategy, it will take a measured form of success to put the County back on the map.
The so called friendly atmosphere of the Athletic Grounds will not only enhance the chances of the visitors, but could even negate a partisan approach from the home fans who in modern times seem tentative in their support of their side.
The Athletic Grounds could see an influx of around 10,000 on Sunday, for a sudden death clash which will make or break the Armagh model.
Tactically and technically Armagh showed great ineptitude against Donegal and for long periods in the win over Wicklow McGeeney’s side were struggling before the Jamie Clarke show took centre stage. It would be a surprise however to see the Rangers man get the same space on Sunday, other players like Andy Murnan, Stefan Campbell and Tony Kernan may have to provide season bests to put their side into the next round.
Aaron Findon is expected to return to the midfield and captain Kieran McKeever, and Kevin Dyas are also expected back.
Galway will have lost absolutely no credibility in their defeat to Mayo, Gary Sice will line out at number 10, and both Damien O’Connor and Danny Cummins could provide serious threats to the Armagh rear guard. The visitors will possibly let loose in the early stages with a series of high balls to test both the Armagh keeper and his full backs, before settling to run in what can only be described as straight lines, a tactic successfully used by Kildare teams in the past.
The team with the least wides will progress.