Armagh’s outstanding record against Donegal in Croke Park will be put on the line when the sides meet this Saturday in the AlI Ireland quarter-final, writes Eugene Creaney.
It is almost unbelievable how much things have changed for both Counties.
Last season Jim McGuinness witnessed his team being thrashed by Mayo who ravaged the Donegal defence on the way to a tilt at the Sam Maguire, in 2013 Armagh fell on their own sword with the team’s cavalier approach and all out attacking strategy leading to their downfall.
Enter Kieran Mc Geeney, the All Ireland winning captain having been placed at the very centre of things by team boss Grimley who has brought a meanness and a vitality to the Armagh squad which had been lacking in previous years.
“Donegal will be the best team we have met so far, but our players are all looking forward to the challenge,” said Grimley.
“Our supporters have been fantastic all season and we hope we can give them something to cheer about on Saturday.”
Supporters have been advised to expect a war of attrition, both teams will bring men behind the ball in an attempt to stifle the opposition but these games often take on a life of their own and the respective attacks are well capable of raking up big scores.
Should Armagh lose on Saturday, some satisfaction can be gained from the sides progress this season, while it should be remembered that Grimley’s side were beaten by a good Monaghan outfit who fell to Donegal in the Provincial decider, the Orchard men look a lot better than at any time over the past number of years.
Should Kieran Mc Keever miss the cut, Aaron Kernan would be the automatic choice for a defensive spot.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Stefan Forker join his brother Aidan in the attack, and James Morgan who has struggled in recent games may be given another opportunity to prove his worth in the right back position.
Donegal will arrive oozing with class in every department.
For Armagh to win on Saturday even considering their recent form they will need to catch Donegal on an off day, the Ulster Champions attack will pose a greater threat than any side Paul Grimley’s team have met so far.
Croke Park is a huge pitch and many opportunities will arise throughout the game.
A new air of optimism is sweeping the County, Grimley has always maintained he had a talented group of players.