Armagh and Tyrone have shared the field three times in just under twelve months. Ronan Murphy’s team have held the upper hand recently, winning all of those meetings
Tiarna Grimes has been one of the stars of this emerging Armagh side. The roaming wing-half-back will once again be out to conquer their old rivals Tyrone.
“No two games are the same no matter how many times you play a team. Tyrone have beat us, we’ve beat them, and I think no matter whether you beat a team by a little or beat them by a lot, there’s no two games that are the same”.
The Orchard County suffered a poor league campaign last year. But they kickstarted their glorious season with two big wins over Tyrone in the Ulster and All-Ireland series.
“We had quite a poor league campaign last year. Tyrone actually beat us in the league and that was at home. I think we were just glad to get the league wrapped up and focus on championship.
Although we were pushing for promotion, we just put it behind us to focus on the Ulster and then the All-Ireland”.
2021 may tell a similar tale. Armagh didn’t fulfil their first target when they once again missed out on promotion in an all-Ulster Division 2B.
“I found it kind of weird. You’re playing those teams and then you’re going to play them in the Ulster, probably not that much after you’ve just played them.
We’re really happy with the performances, it just didn’t go our way. We’re disappointed not to get the promotion as it was one of our goals at the start of the year and we’ve shown that we’re more than capable.
Last year we played Dublin and we almost beat them. We beat Mayo in the All-Ireland series, so we know we’re up there with the bigger teams”.
Friday’s clash will be Armagh’s fourth straight outing in the Athletic Grounds this year. The Clann Eireann star has been happy to see some supporters returning to the games.
“It’s always a privilege to be playing on your own home turf. To have the crowd back again, although it is only 500 supporters across both teams, I think it just gives us a little bit of a lift to push us on.
We’re winning for them as well. We’re not just winning for ourselves or winning for family members, who had to watch us through a TV screen over the past year or so”.
While most of the plaudits go to Aimee Mackin and her attacking support, Armagh’s defence is full of top-quality talent as well.
A concern however will be the fact that Tyrone hit three first half goals in their recent league tie. The orange and white rear-guard know they will have to be on top of their game.
“We didn’t concede any goals against Monaghan, that’s our focus. We’re all good at bombing forward but if you’re a defender, your priority is to defend.
We just need to ensure that we’re all tracking runners. I think that’s where Tyrone got us with the goals in the last game, the three goals came from their runners coming through.
We’ve been a lot more aware of that now, so we’ll try to keep out the goals this time around”.
Armagh are the reigning Ulster champions having ended a six year wait in 2020. Any talk of two-in-a-row will be on the backburner until after this weekend.
“The Ulster was the icing on the cake for us and it gave us the confidence going into the championship this year, to show we are more than capable of winning. It is just one game at a time. I just hope to be back in the Ulster final after this weekend”.