Aidan Nugent will experience his first outing in Croke Park this weekend and he isn’t the only one who will be breaking new ground.
Armagh last played in Headquarters in 2018, defeating Fermanagh in the National League final.
The likes of Nugent, Rian O’Neill and Jarly Og Burns only came onto the scene the year after. They have yet to experience the dizzy heights of playing on Jones’ Road.
Facing Dublin will be a new experience for a lot of the of the squad, excluding some of the older heads.
Brendan Donaghy is the sole survivor of the 2010 team that lost out in the qualifiers to Dublin, while Rory Grugan faced the Dubs along with Donaghy in the 2011 league opener.
2012, the last time the two counties played, only Donaghy, Aidan Forker and Stefan Campbell remain.
“It’s a clean slate for everyone. We’ll have a game plan, and the plan is to stick to it, so it doesn’t matter if it’s in Croke Park,” said Nugent
“Doesn’t matter if it’s in Dublin, doesn’t matter if it’s in Armagh. We’re still going out to play ourselves and play the way we want to play.”
Admiration for Dublin
Armagh have watched on as Dublin marched to a historic six All-Irelands in a row. Nugent admittedly admires a lot about Dessie Farrell’s side, but insists the Orchard won’t be looking up to the Dublin players once the ball is thrown in.
“We’ve been watching a lot of the championship (the last few years), you watch them, you admire how they play. But listen when you’re beside them on the field you’re not going to look up to them too much. You’re going to be going as hard as you can to get the result.”
While the experience may not be there, the competition for places certainly is, especially in a stacked forward line.
“We play in house games every week and you wouldn’t pick an A or a B team out of, so it’s always a good thing. There’s someone stepping on your toes to try and get your place and vice versa.”
“Even last year, there’s no two forwards the same and we’ve brought in maybe another four or five. Everyone brings something different to the game. You know if you’re not on your game, someone will come in and replace you.”
“Or even if you’ve played 50 or 60 minutes. The man coming on is going to do the same job if not better to close it out.”