Former Armagh player and manager Brian Canavan believes the 2000 Ulster winning side was the best team his county has ever produced.
Canavan, who managed the side along with Brian McAlinden, guided Armagh to back-to-back Ulster crowns.
2000 was the last time Armagh face Derry in the Ulster final, and the Orchard emerged victorious, 1-12 to 1-11.
“It was a very memorable day when I look back at it now,” said Canavan, speaking on the GAA Social Podcast. “With Derry coming to play Armagh in an Ulster final again, you start to reminisce a little.
“It was a game in 2000 when I felt Armagh had their best team ever. We had come to the fore in ’99, beat Down in the final.
“It was probably a learning experience but in 2000, to this day, I feel that was the best Armagh team that we ever had and played the best football.”
2002 All-Ireland winners
11 of that starting team featured in the first ever Armagh team to win the All-Ireland two years later.
“It was roughly the same team (that won the All-Ireland),” added Canavan, who played for Armagh for 14 years.
“But that year I thought they were off the leash. And I thought the matches against Kerry in the semi-final were brilliant matches.
“Oisin (McConville) scored probably ten minutes from the end, and it was the last score. There wasn’t another score afterwards which was unreal.
“Of course, big Anthony Tohill had the opportunity to equalise with the last kick of the game. It just fell short. I felt that was the best team we ever had.”
The only difference between the two teams, 2000 and 2002, as Canavan points out, was rising star Ronan Clarke. He was the “missing link.”
“I thought we were absolutely brilliant that year. And we met a very good Kerry side in the semi-final, and they went on to win the All-Ireland easy enough that year.
“The 2002 team was brilliant as well, don’t get me wrong, but I thought that team, the forward play was superb.
“And probably when I look back at it, the only missing link came in 2002 when Ronan Clarke came into the squad.
“We took him in in 2001, hoping to play him in 2002, but of course we never got the chance,” laughed Canavan.
“So that team, he was the man that was really needed in the full forward line to help the rest of the guys to come into the game.”