National Football League – Round Three
Armagh vs Donegal
Saturday 29th May – Athletic Grounds – 7.30pm
Armagh’s destiny is in their own hands this weekend when they welcome Donegal to the Athletic Grounds.
While the stadium may not be rammed, some lucky fans will be allowed back into the grounds to witness the action.
The home support may be needed to cheer out an injury-stricken Orchard County as they hope to secure their Division One status.
The trapdoor of the playoffs offers a plan B, but Geezer and his men will look to solidify their place in the top tier with a win on Saturday.
To do so they must overcome Donegal, who were 12 points the better team when the sides last met.
That was last years Ulster Championship semi-final when Armagh failed to deliver, and Donegal ran out easy winners.
There most recent league encounter, in 2019, was a much tighter affair as the Tir Chonaill men sneaked through with a one-point win, 1-9 to 0-11.
Michael Murphy was the hero in the blistering rain that night as he was launched from the bench to hit 1-2.
Donegal’s talisman won’t be available this weekend after picking up a hamstring injury in the opening periods of their round two draw with Monaghan.
Armagh have their own injury worries and Kieran McGeeney looks to be without several of his most experienced and trusted defenders.
Ryan Kennedy and Aidan Forker left the Athletic Grounds in crutches last weekend and are ruled out for Saturday’s tie.
Paddy Burns continued his bad run of injuries as he was forced off due to a hamstring injury in last week’s second half.
James Morgan exited the fray before the half time break, but it is hoped the Crossmaglen man-marker will be fit to play.
This may force Geezer to play an inexperienced line-up at the back, but he can call upon the likes of Brendan Donaghy and Paul Hughes to add a bit of know-how.
Donegal conceded four goals when they hosted Monaghan last weekend and it’s sure Declan Bonner has been working on his defensive formations all week.
Armagh have the firepower to cause serious damage to any defence and will come up against one that has conceded 4-27 in two games.
Rory Grugan has been in terrific form and has top scored for the Orchard County with 0-11 in the opening two games.
The O’Neill brothers will be well known to the Donegal rear guard while Stefan Campbell is also a danger up top.
Conor Turbitt has been so impressed in the previous two outings and displayed his quality hitting 0-2 against Donegal last year.
Armagh may be plagued with injuries but they still have enough talent and experience on the field to cause an upset.
If Kieran McGeeney can get his men over the line, they are guaranteed a semi final berth, most likely against either Dublin or Kerry.
Home advantage counted for little last week but when the Armagh faithful begin to chant on Saturday evening, perhaps this will be enough to drive Armagh to a surprise win!