National Hurling League – Round Five
Armagh vs Tyrone
Saturday 19th June – Athletic Grounds – 2pm
If Armagh were facing any other opposition this weekend it could be seen as a dead rubber, with Sligo already having the league title and promotion wrapped up.
But this is a rivalry clash that means something to both teams as they looked to lay down a marker for further meetings in the coming weeks.
Armagh and Tyrone have been drawn into the same group for the Nicky Rackard Cup and will face off in two weeks’ time.
That 3rd of July clash will also be held in the Athletic Grounds, so this will be a dress rehearsal before the main event.
A win this weekend for either side would help carry huge momentum into that clash, meaning both teams will be taking Saturday’s game seriously.
Fionntan Donnelly has been the find of the year from an Armagh perspective and he has been instrumental to the cause.
The young Keady free taker is currently top scorer for Padraig O’Connor’s men having hit 0-35 across three games.
Danny Magee, Eoin McGuinness, Mark McClatchey and Stevie Keenan have all hit the net for Armagh throughout the league.
They started with a blistering win over Longford on the opening day but failed to build on the momentum with a second-round loss to Sligo.
While the scoreline flattered the Yeats County, they were the better team throughout, and Armagh had plenty of lessons to learn.
They were afforded the chance to bounce right back and did so with aplomb, defeating Monaghan in round three.
Tyrone had more of a mixed league campaign under the watchful eye of their new boss Michael McShane.
They’ve won one, lost one and drawn one, meaning they sit at midtable with Monaghan and Longford both below.
They opened their account with a 1-25 to 2-13 win over the Farney men before engaging in a thriller with Longford.
The sides ended all square after an enthralling contest, both scoring 2-22 in a high scoring encounter.
Like Armagh, they didn’t have enough to get one over Sligo and the Westerners were crowned league champs after their seven-point win over the Red Hands.
Tyrone do have some notable attacking marksmen in their ranks that Armagh will be aware of.
Damien Casey has been their talisman for a few years now and has scored 1-32 across his sides three games.
Supporting him in attack will be former Antrim star CJ McGourty, who has lined out in the red and white this year.
The ex-St Gall’s man top scored with 2-4 in Tyrone’s draw with Longford and will be a threat to the Armagh defence.
The Orchard County will hope to get one over their old rivals this weekend and put doubts in their head, with a bigger clash to come in three weeks’ time.