Both Armagh and Derry have announced their starting teams for tomorrows round one clash, but it would be no surprise if we witness a few late changes.
Brendan Donaghy is a clear omission from the Armagh starting line-up, although he hasn’t featured in either of their last two league games.
Derry have perhaps selected as predicted, but the likes of Carlus McWilliams, Benny Heron, Emmet Bradley or Shea Downey could find themselves slotted in before the throw in.
Watch our preview of the game with Paddy Savage, Conleith Gilligan and Ciaran McKeever by following the above link!!
It’s likely that both teams will mirror each other, getting plenty of bodies behind the ball and cutting off any space.
Rory Gallagher has had great success with this tactic against Armagh and is unlikely to change his approach.
He does have good forwards at his disposal though, with the likes of Shane McGuigan, Niall Loughlin and Enda Lynn needing watched from an Armagh perspective.
Armagh defensive match ups
Ryan Kennedy has become Armagh’s go-to man-marker in the full back line and looks to be making the number three jersey his own.
The Ballymacnab man will likely pick up Shane McGuigan and this duel will be key to the outcome of the game.
If Kennedy can limit the Derry mans influence, it’s hard to see where Gallagher’s side will get their scores from.
James Morgan has a reputation as a sticky marker and could pick up this role once more, facing McLoughlin in the full back line.
If Donaghy doesn’t start, Mark Shields may drop into that sweeper position and protect the full back line, with Cumiskey taking his spot in defence.
Enda Lynn as been about a long time in this Derry set up and is one of their main players at number eleven.
Paddy Burns has the pace to challenge Lynn and could see himself further out the field to track the centre half forward.
With Derry retreating into their defensive structure, Armagh are likely to allow their wing half backs, O’Neill and Cumiskey to hold their positions.
However, when Armagh do turn the ball over, their half back line offers plenty of attacking quality that can hurt the home side.
Aidan Forker could play as a second sweeper, sitting just between the half back line and midfield.
This allows him to attack should his side counter and also track any runners such as Brendan Rodgers or Chrissy McKaigue.
Giants collide in centre-field
Conor Glass has returned to the Derry set-up this season and he will likely hold a spot in the middle of the park.
Much as been made of his return from the AFL and Armagh will want to shadow his every move.
Niall Grimley is perhaps Armagh’s best option and it’s certain that he will play in midfield rather than at corner forward.
Kieran McGeeney has plenty of options in the centre, with Sheridan, O’Neill and Grimley all featuring in this area.
Rian O’Neill often switches with his brother and that is always another idea should Armagh need to switch it up.
Ciaran McFaul is an attack minded player and will get forward on the break, so Sheridan seems to be the man for that job.
Like Armagh, Derry seem to have lined out with the plan of putting three big men across the middle of the park.
Oisin O’Neill needs curtailed form a Derry point of view and perhaps Padraig Cassidy will be handed that role.
Depending on how both sides set up, we could see the goalkeepers favouring the easy option of the short kick out and we may not get to see much high fielding from the midfield giants.
I’ve yet to hear or read anybody that has suggested that Derry may open up a bit and play a more attacking style.
The opinion is that Gallagher will flood the defence in an attempt to reel Armagh in and frustrate their forward division.
This worked two years ago with Fermanagh, but Armagh’s forward line has changed from that day.
Rory Grugan only came on, Clarke and the two O’Neill’s weren’t on the panel, nor was tomorrow’s captain Stefan Campbell.
Those five players will be crucial for Armagh getting over the line and they all have the ability to break down defences.
We may see more workman-like performances from Grugan and Campbell with Rian O’Neill and Clarke playing the furthest up the park.
Brendan Rodgers will surely pick up O’Neill on the edge of the square and their match up could be worth the admission fee alone.
Paul McNeill was added to the Derry panel only a number of weeks ago and could face the challenge of picking up Jamie Clarke.
He wouldn’t be left isolated however, with Chrissy McKaigue perhaps picking up the free man role in defence.
Derry have plenty of pace on the counterattack, with Doherty, McKaigue, Rodgers and Tallon all looking to break forward.
Armagh will be well aware of this and the roles of Grugan, Campbell and others along the half forward line will stop Derry breaking forward.
The Armagh attack will have to be patient and we could see them hold on to the ball for long periods while trying to get forward tomorrow afternoon.