Steven Poacher looks at the key battles as Donegal and Armagh face off for a place in the Ulster SFC final, with emphasis on key players such as Michael Murphy, Ryan McHugh, Jamie Clarke and Oisin O’Neill.
BY SHANE STAPLETON
Armagh have not won an Ulster SFC title since 2008, and in their path lays a Donegal side chasing a provincial three-in-a-row.
Kieran ‘Geezer’ McGeeney has been building this Orchard County side for five years, and will hope the confidence gained from promotion to Division One of the league will springboard them to success this winter.
Steven Poacher analyses both sides in our preview (click play above), and though he favours Declan Bonner’s outfit to come through, he does give Armagh a chance of coming out of the doldrums.
“I think they do and I think this year’s promotion will have given them serious confidence to kick on,” says Poacher.
“Put it like this, if Armagh get over Donegal on Sunday, the hunger and the thirst for an Ulster title will be beyond belief.
“They’ll look at the other side of the draw (Cavan v Down) and think this is a serious opportunity.
“My one concern for them is that at this stage of the campaign, there needs to be an element of managing the game, being shrewd and cute.
“Sometimes I think they’re nearly too honest and open in the way they play, and if they have learned their lessons of the past and if they ride out the storm that Donegal will throw out at them at different stage, then they have a chance.
“They have a real chance but it’s an Ulster tie, it will probably be a wild night based on the weather forecast, you never know.”
TALE OF THE TAPE
ARMAGH v DONEGAL
This will be their 28thth championship clash, with Armagh winning fifteen to Donegal’s nine and three draws from the previous 27 contests.
Both have one win behind them in the Ulster championship: Donegal beat Tyrone by two points while Armagh had the same amount to spare over Derry in their quarter-final.
LAST FIVE CHAMPIONSHIP CLASHES
2015: Donegal 2-11 Armagh 0-8 (Ulster quarter-final)
2014: Donegal 1-12 Armagh 1-11 (All-Ireland quarter-final)
2010: Armagh 2-14 Donegal 0-11 (All-Ireland qualifier)
2007: Donegal 1-9 Armagh 1-8 (Ulster quarter-final)
2006: Armagh 1-9 Donegal 0-9 (Ulster final)
*This will be their first championship meeting since 2015 when Donegal won an Ulster quarter-final by nine points.
*Donegal are bidding to reach the final for the ninth time in ten seasons. The only year they missed out was 2017.
*Armagh were last in the final in 2008.
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