The Armagh u17s have waited a long time to open their championship account, but they will finally get the chance to do so this weekend.
With this game being rescheduled for the third time this year, the Orchard County will hope the wait has been worth it.
From their first training session in October of last year, Armagh have been on the go fourteen months without a championship game.
A lot has gone on during that time and we’ve taken a look back at the long season the minors have experienced.
October 2019 – First Training
If you’d have told Ciaran McKeever and his team that they would go a year without playing in the championship, they wouldn’t have believed.
Yet fourteen months on from they first took the field, their minor championship campaign still hasn’t begun.
Armagh started training in October of last year, in preparation for their pre-season tournament, the Fr Manning Cup.
They had the league and championship to prepare for in the coming months, as well as keeping an eye out for any potential talent within the county.
November 2019 – Fr Manning Cup
The pre-season tournament of the Fr Manning Cup saw the minors compete against the likes of Longford and Sligo.
A loss to the Yeats County meant Armagh would complete the rest of the tournament in the shield competition.
Wins over Meath (1-9 to 0-6) and Carlow (6-10 to 0-3) saw them reach the shield final against Roscommon.
Although McKeever’s men gave a promising display, they lost out by five points, 1-12 to 0-10.
February/March 2020 – Minor League
The league started on the last day of February with a difficult away trip to Antrim being Armagh’s opening match.
The hosts grabbed the only two goals of the game to pick up maximum points, winning in the end 2-6 to 0-10.
Armagh bounced back the following week with Mattie Lennon’s goal the difference in a 1-10 to 1-7 victory over Monaghan.
Unfortunately, the league was abandoned due to lock down and Armagh didn’t get the chance to progress further.
April 2020 – Run against the Sun
With no competitive action taking place during lockdown, the u17s instead took part in the ‘Run against the Sun’ challenge.
The target was to run 150km in one day, stretching from sunrise to sunset. 30 squad members took part, each running 5k.
This was all done to raise funds for Stewarts Care in Dublin, with Dean Rock the driving force behind so many getting involved.
This same month should have been Armagh’s Ulster opener against Monaghan. The draw changed during the summer, meaning Armagh would now play Derry in round one.
October 2020 – Ulster Championship Suspended
The time had finally arrived, and Armagh were just days away from finally playing championship football.
However, three days before the game was due to take place, more lockdown restrictions were announced, and the games were cancelled.
A cut down on training was also part of the new restrictions, while a new date for the championship clash was set.
December 2020 – Ulster Championship Round One
Now, after fourteen months since the first training session, Armagh will finally take the field for the Ulster Championship.
This Sunday, the minor side travel to Derry to compete in the first round of the championship.
This is the third meeting between the sides in the last four seasons, with the Oak Leaf County winning all three outings.
Let hope the wait has been worth it!