McKenna Cup campaign kicks off in Ballybofey

The New Year has just been rung in and inter-county football is back with the McKenna Cup kicking off on Wednesday.

From an Armagh perspective, all roads lead to Ballybofey for their opening round clash with rivals Donegal.

It’ll also mark Jim McGuinness first game back in charge of the Tir Chonaill men, having returned for a second stint.

Armagh played such a huge role in McGuinness’ Donegal story. It was the hammering dished out in 2010 at Crossmaglen that finally landed McGuinness the job in the first place.

In his four-year tenure over his native county, McGuinness took them to new, unimaginable heights.

They won three Ulster titles from four appearances. They lifted the Sam Maguire in 2012, ending a 20-year wait and reached the decider again in 2014.

The New Year has just been rung in and inter-county football is back with the McKenna Cup kicking off on Wednesday.

Donegal’s dreams of landing a second All-Ireland title in three years were dashed by Kerry in the final.

A certain Kieran Donaghy, now in the Armagh management team, claimed the all-important second half goal.

One of McGuinness’ greatest achievements during that time was their heroic victory over Jim Gavin’s ‘unbeatable’ Dublin.

A tactic masterclass from the Donegal boss downed the Dubs and sent his side through to the All-Ireland final.

Although, it very nearly didn’t happen. On another day, it would have been Armagh that faced the might of Gavin’s men.

Armagh’s clash with Donegal in the 2014 All-Ireland quarter-final was immensely intense. The winner wasn’t quite known until the final whistle.

It was Donegal who progressed, and Armagh failed to live up to the expectations that that performances had promised in the following years.

The New Year has just been rung in and inter-county football is back with the McKenna Cup kicking off on Wednesday.
Photo Credit: John Merry

Kieran McGeeney’s tenure

Kieran McGeeney took charge in 2015 and now ten years on, he may finally have the team where he wants them.

How much weight will he put into the McKenna Cup? Going by the nine previous seasons, not a lot.

But it’s a chance to find another gem or two that could finally help Armagh get to where they want to go.

A number of players impressed in the recent Club All-Star game and put there hands up for a chance to wear the orange and white.

There’ll be plenty of players seeing game time over the next few weeks as preparations continue for the Division Two league campaign.

Their clash with Donegal in the league will be much more important of course. But still, it’s fitting that McGuinness kicks off his tenure against the Orchard County.

The New Year has just been rung in and inter-county football is back with the McKenna Cup kicking off on Wednesday.
Photo Credit: Richiespics