Armagh are the hoo doo team – Devenney
THIS weekend, the relegation tussle between Donegal and Armagh in Ballybofey will all be about who shows up for duty.
Armagh are in a fabulous position here. The carry-on in Laois turned out to be the best thing that could happened to them in this league campaign; while they lost the game, they gained a siege mentality that will propel him all the way to the Championship. In letting the GAA off a massive ‘partitionist abuse’ hook, they brokered a deal that brought Ciaran McKeever back in from the cold.
So the Orchard head to Ballybofey mob-handed, with half a dozen Crossmaglen men operating with cast-iron confidence. It’s a scary mix.
Overall, Armagh get a pretty raw deal from some quarters. It’s not every county that have had to play on without their main men, and Armagh have survived two cut-throat seasons in the top flight like this.
Another point that hasn’t been raised in their defence is the absence of Stevie McDonnell. Naturally I’m open to correction, but it appears that Stevie might have slipped into retirement. He has been their main scoring threat for the past ten years, so it has been a major loss.
If he has gone gently into the night, they will need Jamie Clarke to go to another level. Nobody doubts his class and skill, but the way Tyrone’s defensive system, allied with Conor Gormley’s man-marking, left Clarke scoreless in their backdoor game last summer. That little stat is something to ponder before the rivals across the Blackwater reach the Athletic Grounds on 10th June.
The full story is in the current issue of Gaelic Life – published April 5 – buy your copy in your newsagent, or online, by clicking the subscribe button on this page