Time for Armagh to make their championship mark – Marsden

By Shaun Casey

IT’S time for Armagh to make it count in the championship insists 2002 All-Ireland winner Diarmaid Marsden.

Armagh are boosted by the availability of Aidan Nugent and Stefan Campbell, although Ciaran Mackin remains sidelined through injury.

Marsden still feels it’s “necessary” for Kieran McGeeney’s men, who enjoyed a fruitful league campaign on their return to Division One football, to win this massive clash.

“I think it’s Armagh’s time for a championship scalp, and Donegal are sitting in their way and that’s more within their capabilities,” he said.

“A defeat will not sit well with Armagh players or management, this will be another rung on their ladder of climbing up to where they want to be and they’ll take a defeat really, really bad. So, they’ll be all out for a win.

“I think it’s necessary for this Armagh team to get that win and a big win it will be if they can get over the line and they can really, really progress from that.

“ A defeat could just flatline things for the season so it’s a real big springboard here for them.”

Ballybofey is a tough place to go, and Marsden knows well how difficult of a journey it is.

“The Clan na Gael man played his last Ulster championship game in the venue, when a late Kevin Cassidy goal sent Armagh crashing to the qualifiers.

“Going back to 2007, where we should have won the match, the last-minute goal just went in and that was that. Down through the years Donegal have always had that bit of luck and fortune in Ballybofey.

“Even in recent years they’ve come out with some good performances and some lucky performances that got them results. But at the end of the day, a pitch is a pitch, it’s an away game for Armagh and that’s what they need to treat it as.

“There’ll be a real fever pitch cauldron of an atmosphere and some players will thrive in that and some might withdraw a wee bit. But we hope most of the Armagh players will really step up and really embrace the championship atmosphere and deal with that and forget about where it is and who they’re playing but just on their own jobs in hand.”

The atmosphere is sure to be electric and the former Orchard star and current Clan na Gael manager says the players have to solely focus on the football.

“That’s going to be a challenge, to keep the focus on football and doing what’s needed within the team to be successful. There’s going to be niggle, there’s going to be pressure, there’s going to be noise, there’s going to be all the things that make our games enjoyable to watch and enjoyable to play in.

“It’s dealing with all of those things; it’s keeping them in the radar and not ignoring them but preparing how to deal with them and then deliver football wise which is the most important thing.”

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