My memories of playing Armagh – Brian McGuigan
MY FIRST encounter with Armagh at senior inter-county level was back in 2000 when we met them in the first round of the Ulster championship. I came on for my debut with 15 minutes to go, and was back off the field with five minutes to go after John Donaldson welcomed me to senior inter-county football with a serious clothesline. I can’t mind anything about it… I can only go by what people told me.
Since then of course I’ve seen plenty of them as we launched our great rivalry which lasted throughout the 2000s and was played out between Clones and Croke Park.
Armagh had been knocking on the door for a few years at that stage, and were a few steps further down the road than we were. A lot has been said about how Armagh winning the All-Ireland in 2002 was the spur for us, and to some degree that’s true.
I remember watching the 2002 All-Ireland final on TV and wondering if we were ever going to reach that height. What Mickey Harte would have told us when he came in was that if our neighbours could go down south and win it, then we could do the same.
I think it was a rivalry which spurred both teams on, because in trying to match each other, we were pushing each other on.
The numbers which attended those games was unbelievable. You have to remember that it was around the time of the Celtic Tiger. People who weren’t even involved in football used those county matches as a big day out, money wasn’t an object.
The full story is in the current issue of Gaelic Life, published Thursday June 7. Buy your copy now in your local newsagent, or you can purchase the online edition for only 90p by clicking here