Ulster Minor Championship – Quarter Final
Derry vs Armagh
Wednesday 28th July – Owenbeg – 7.30pm
It’s not often you get the opportunity to dethrone the All-Ireland champions ten days after they lifted the crown.
That’s the prospect facing the Armagh minors this evening as they take on 2020 All-Ireland winners Derry.
The Oak Leaf County defeated Armagh at the same stage of last year’s competition before achieving national success.
This is the third year on the bounce the teams meet in the opening round. They also clashed in the 2018 backdoor.
Derry have come out on top three years straight, although going by the score lines, the gap is certainly closing.
The Orchard County bowed out of the 2018 championship in the Athletic Grounds, 1-5 to 3-14.
Ciaran McKeever’s charges dwindled the score to 1-5 to 0-4 in 2019. Two points was the margin in 2020, 1-7 to 0-8.
The key to Derry’s victories in the last two years have been goals. And getting them at the right time.
A big target for Armagh tonight will be to keep a clean sheet and they have a good enough defence to accomplish that.
Gareth Murphy, Emmett Magee and Fergal O’Brien all played in last years meeting and have that experience under their belts.
Murphy is a strong, old-fashioned full back while Magee has been named captain. O’Brien may try and cause Derry problems heading the other way during the counterattack.
Michael Burnett also started last year. He is a man mountain in midfield and the Tir na nOg man will certainly be a good target for kick outs.
Aaron O’Neill, brother of Crossmaglen pair Oisin and Rian, starts play centre half forward and is an exciting prospect.
The son of Clan na Gael and Armagh legend Barry O’Hagan, Brendan, has been named at wing half forward.
Inside the dangerous Luke McKeever, one of two Harps men in the starting team along with Tadgh Grimley, will look to give the Derry defence plenty of headaches.
Brendan Hughes has a strong management team around him, with Shane McConville in as his right-hand man.
Paul Watters, Barry Watters, Brendan Savage, Aaron Kernan and Barry O’Hagan have also had an input.
Home advantage sits with Derry, but Armagh will be full of confidence in their own abilities. The county minors haven’t won a first round game since 2016, so lets hope that changes tonight.