National Football League – Play Off
Armagh vs Roscommon
Sunday 13th June – Athletic Grounds – 3.00pm
It’s back to the Athletic Grounds once again this weekend as Armagh hope to secure topflight football for another year.
With a bit of luck, Armagh wouldn’t have been in this position and could have been facing the challenge of a Division One semi-final.
The width of the post denied them some breathing space against Donegal when the pressure was on in the final moments.
An injury crisis struck the full-back line the first half against Tyrone and McGeeney’s men will still feel they could have got something from the game.
They have been in great form throughout the campaign and have played some superb football in all three of their encounters.
There still are some defensive issues however that continue to raise their heads, Michael Langan’s goal the last day out for example.
The rangy half forward carried the ball right through the heart of the Armagh defence having won possession on the halfway line.
The big teams don’t concede those types of goals, but the Orchard County will see it as a learning curve and an area to improve on.
Ciaran McKeever is the man tasked with the defensive coaching duties, and he will have spent a lot time on this during the last two weeks.
Armagh are limited in what they can do however as they have lost key personal at the back, namely Ryan Kennedy, Aidan Forker, Mark Shields and Paddy Burns.
There is hope for Forker and Killeavy’s Conor O’Neill may be in contention for a place, but it’s much too soon for the other trio who will once again watch on from the stands.
They’ll be joined by 400 plus loyal Armagh fans who will cheer on their county and that extra boost could be enough to get them over the line.
The fans were badly missed when these sides clashed last year, and the goals were once again this difference with Roscommon nabbing three to win the game.
Both backroom teams have been shaken up since then with McKeever and Kieran Donaghy now alongside boss Kieran McGeeney.
Roscommon manager Anthony Cunningham has Down native Stephen Poacher by his side this year, and he will know the Armagh lads inside out.
Still, the Orchard County will hope they have enough quality to take on the 2017 and 2019 Connacht champions.
Both sides boast some of the best attackers in the country, although it’s unlikely to be a shootout, like we witnessed in 2018.
Rory Grugan, Stefan Campbell and the O’Neill’s, Rian and Oisin have been in terrific form with Conor Turbitt and Tiernan Kelly helping out from the bench.
Similarly, Roscommon have such talents as Conor Cox, Enda Smith, Diarmuid Murtagh, Donie Smith and Ciaran Murtagh, all of whom will require watching.
It would be heart breaking if Armagh can’t get over the line to secure their spot in Division One having played some great stuff in recent weeks.
But this is where it matters most and with home advantage and their loyal fanbase there to cheer them on, Armagh may just have enough to see this one out.