There’s never anything simple when these two cross paths. No matter what the situation, there’s always a lot on the line when it comes to Armagh and Donegal.
Take their three meetings last year. In the final round of the league, it wasn’t the two points on offer that really mattered. Instead it was laying down a marker for the championship.
Things spiralled out of control by the end of the encounter, whetting the appetite for what was set to be a momentous clash in Ballybofey to kickstart the 2022 Ulster Championship.
It was anything but, however. Armagh crashed out of the provincial competition while Donegal went on to reach the Ulster final.
And as fate would have it, once Armagh had saw off one old rival in Tyrone, they were drawn in a winner takes all battle with Donegal in Clones.
This time, things would be different. Goals from Rory Grugan, Rian O’Neill and Stephen Sheridan saw the Orchard County through to the last eight of the All-Ireland series. And that finally ended the Donegal hoodoo.
Fast forward to Saturday’s encounter and once again there is a lot up for grabs for the winner. Not only the bragging rights that come with a big rivalry such as this one, but there’s also two points that will fend off the dreaded fear of relegation.
Since beginning the league with a win, (Armagh saw off Monaghan while Donegal defeated Kerry), neither side has tasted another victory.
Armagh earned a point against Mayo, in the Box-It Athletic Grounds. But since then they’ve suffered back to back losses to Roscommon and Kerry.
Donegal likewise only took one point from their last three outings and that was through a draw against Galway last weekend. That came after consecutive beatings from Ulster rivals Tyrone and Monaghan.
Minus the firepower of the recently retired Michael Murphy and the injured Paddy McBrearty, Donegal may struggle in terms of attacking talent for the remainder of the league.
Armagh on the other hand have their own injury worries, as the likes of Rory Grugan missed out last weekend. Regulars like James Morgan, Ben Crealey and Oisin O’Neill have saw no game time at all in 2023.
This game is truly on a knife edge with the ‘must-win’ element surrounding the fixture,. This will go right down to the wire.
Last year’s win in Clones felt like a turning point in the rivalry, swinging the dial in Armagh’s favour.
With home advantage this weekend, Kieran McGeeney’s side should have enough to get the job done.