Orchard kickstart season with Saffron visit

The 2023 season swings into action this evening and Armagh get their year underway with a home tie against Antrim.

In three months time, the two teams will compete in a much more important encounter. The pair clash in the preliminary round of the Ulster Championship, also in the Athletic Grounds.

But for now, all the focus will be preparing for the National League and getting a good run in the McKenna Cup.

It’s not a competition that Armagh have excelled in recently, as they haven’t tasted any success since 1994.

They did reach the final as recently as 2019, but arch-rivals Tyrone edged out a two-point win that evening.

Armagh fans will be excited to see a few new faces get game time between tonight’s game and next weeks away visit to Cavan.

Armagh panel

The likes of Shane McPartland and Cian McConville stood out in the club championship, as did Madden’s Conor Grimley.

Eoin Woods and Justin Kieran caught the eye in Croke Park last summer against Galway. They may see some game time in the McKenna Cup.

Cian McConville will hope to see game time this season
Photo Credit: John Merry

There are also a few more notable names that the supporters will be keen to see back on the field of play.

Tiernan Kelly and Niall Grimley both suffered season ending injuries last year but are back in contention in 2023.

Oisin O’Neill is another who has been plagued with injury of late. O’Neill, along with Ciaron O’Hanlon and Mark Shields, will be sidelined for the foreseeable future.

Callum Cumiskey has been recalled to the panel following a good championship campaign with Crossmaglen. As has Armagh Harps defender Joe McElroy.

Joe McElroy is back in the Armagh squad this season
Photo Credit: John Merry

The feel-good factor that surrounded the Orchard County last season seems to have carried into the new year.

While this is far from a must win game this early in the season, Armagh fans will be eager to see their side get 2023 off to a winning start.

Given the league positions of both sides, Kieran McGeeney’s men should come through this with a few to spare.