Tough test ahead against Derry

PAUL Grimley’s Armagh side could be in for a heavy defeat when they visit the Maiden City on Saturday night to face Division 2 national League side Derry.

With Armagh snatching a draw with Wexford it could be suggested that Paul Grimley’s team will have to improve dramatically to get a result from Celtic Park at the weekend.

Things however may not be so clear cut, Brian McIvor’s team have mostly flattered to deceive, but a new directive could see the Oak Leafers challenge for honours in Ulster this season. It takes a potent strike force to rattle up 19 points in a National League game and Derry’s tally against Wexford last weekend may have been a first for an Inter-County team this season.

The Derry points scorers came from all sections of their line out from full backs to full forwards. In fact six of their points against Wexford came from defenders, a statistic which would suggest a fluid game plan. With only three points coming from frees Derry’s win over Wexford could reflect the early season fitness of Brian McIvor’s side.

In fairness Both Armagh and Derry would struggle in a highly competitive First Division, should Paul Grimley’s side gain both points in Celtic Park they could be relieved of the threat of relegation and continue to experiment, a luxury which they would not enjoy in the top flight. Armagh will probably play with three recognised midfielders against Derry, Johnny Hanratty, Kieran Toner and James Lavery should all be in the mix and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see hat-trick hero Gavin McPartland recover quicker than expected form injury.

Mark Lynch played a blinder last weekend for Derry, he will be supplemented against Armagh by Gerard O’Kane and Emmett McGuckian. The visitors will again look particularly to Stefan Forker and Jamie Clarke for the bulk of their scores. Derry shot 19 points last time out and hit 15 wides which is a lot of chances created. Armagh for their part have been relying on goals to raise a head of steam this season, space will be at a premium at Celtic Park and it could be the points tally which provides the telling factor.