Over 90 minutes of action couldn’t separate these sides last weekend but Paul Hearty hopes that Armagh will have too much for the Breffni Blues this time around. Led by the powerful Jarly Og Burns, Armagh raced into a four point lead early in the second half but the introduction of Cian Mackey insured not only extra time but a replay would be required to determine the winners.
“They’ll learn that they’re every bit as good as Cavan. Going into the game people were afraid that Cavan were a division one team, that they were playing at a higher level and they fairly brought the game to Monaghan and I think a lot of people in Armagh were probably thinking, could our boys match them for their intensity and their quality of play”.
“The fact we did that and at times looked superior in a lot of quarters, we’re well fit to match Cavan and probably a bit more only for maybe a wee bit of inexperience with some of the younger players and the fact that Cavan had to rely on an ace for the bench to guarantee them the draw and Cian Mackey nearly won it. I think the fact that we played well against them, we should have beaten them and we’re an improving team all the time”.
Hearty pointed to two of the younger players who have really captured the imagination of Armagh followers with their championship displays, “Rian O’Neill and Jarly Og Burns, it’s their first two games in the championship and already they’re cornerstones of the team. It shows the impact they’ve had so far so, I think it shows how far we’ve come in a short space and we have further to go. There’s no fear of this Cavan team to be honest”.
Armagh’s attempts to play ‘keep ball’ backfired spectacularly as what seemed like a good position to be in soon turned to chaos and panic “If you lose the ball and the other team get a swift counter and get a score off it, small things like that sway the momentum. You can see the boys are talking a wee bit about game management the last day and I think they’ve done well since the Down game in that they shored up the defence, they weren’t as leaky at the back and they made it a lot more tighter for the opportunities that Cavan got so I think they can only improve on that for the next day”.
“Nothing really prepares you for these things, it’s playing games that will bring you on the most and Armagh have had two games now lasting the guts of 90 minutes so that’ll only bring them on. The only worry is the recovery, with it only being a week the boys will just want to make sure that they recover properly this week. They’re going the right direction, I feel that Armagh have a lot more to give, Cavan probably will feel the same but I think if we control Cavan’s danger men like we did the last day, we have a lot more to learn than Cavan do”.
Cavan’s danger men were somewhat curtailed last weekend, with only two forwards scoring from open play while Gearoid McKiernan only scored from placed balls. Hearty sees Armagh repeating their defensive heroics while also having the ability to cause serious damage at the other end of the park, “They’ve really good players but we nullified Cavan’s better players from the Monaghan game. At that level we have quality players all over the field”.
“It’s just a case of our boys sticking to their jobs and doing the best job they can on the individual their marking and when we get the ball, that’s the beauty of where Armagh are at, at the minute, we have three or four really good forwards with the likes of Rian, Jamie, Stefan and Rory, you give these boys the ball, they’ll make things happen and it’s just a matter of winning the ball and making sure we have options for moving the ball as quickly as possible to our danger men and we’ve seen our danger men can cause hassle to any defence because they’re very talented and they can take on a man, beat a man and take a score and that’s what you want from your forwards”.
Armagh have named the same starting 15 as the last day with one exception, Aaron McKay comes in, in place of the suspended Brendan Donaghy, his absence one which Armagh will certainly feel, “It was very clumsy what he done and he can’t really argue with the red card that he got but he will be a big miss. Probably Charlie Vernon will come in there at full back so they’ll not be stuck for options but Brendy will be a big loss. He’s been playing very well at full back the last couple of years but I can just see Charlie slipping in there”.
The former net minder hopes that Armagh’s superior forward line is enough to see them through, “I think it’s going to be another war of attrition, the two teams will have video sessions going on this week and they’ll be looking at each other and trying to cancel each other out but it’ll probably take that bit of skill, the cream at the top will take the teams through. We’ve seen what Cian Mackey can do off the bench and we know that’s going to happen the next day. I think with the ability we have in our forward line, if we can get the ball to our danger men more often I think we can make this by a couple of points”.