While neither are world beaters, Armagh look to have more energy than Galway
A Derry side gathering momentum will test Cavan’s nerve
Armagh’s Jamie Clarke could enjoy a productive evening against Galway’s fullback line. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho.
Galway v Armagh
Pearse Stadium, 5pm
The only other time these two counties met in the championship was a Croke Park qualifier back in 2001. Galway won an epic on the back of a stunning intervention from Michael Donnellan with time all but dead. Such was the quality on show that within 15 months virtually every player on the pitch would have an All-Ireland medal.
Not that any such idle reminiscing is of interest to either side. Indeed, most of them would say it’s part of the problem in both counties. Too many old-timers telling it how it used to be and not enough focus on how it is. And despite a couple of qualifier wins apiece, it’s not particularly promising for either.
For all the cooing at Armagh’s fantabulous scoring power, it has to be remembered Wicklow and Leitrim essentially gave up after conceding early goals.
Obviously, 10-34 from two matches is serious scoring but it’s nearly too ludicrous to be relevant here. Galway might only have beaten two Division Four teams themselves but they have at least come through two tight games, something Armagh haven’t managed in fully two years.
This is the same Galway, remember, who for the past four seasons in a row have exited the qualifiers by a single point. Small steps. Vitalw steps.
Still, they’re lacking a certain zip. Michael Meehan still toils as admirably as ever but the years and the injuries have robbed him of a gear. Paul Conroy has been the find of their summer at midfield but outside of him they’ve been ponderous. And if Tipperary’s Gary Sweeney and Paul Whyte of Waterford can run up healthy totals from play against their full-back line, you’d have to imagine there’s 1-4 at least in Jamie Clarke.
In the end, we’ll go with the side that looks to have more pep in its step. Armagh are bouncing and , their energy could be the difference.
ARMAGH: P McEvoy, P McKeown, B Donaghy, J Morgan, A Kernan, C McKeever, M Shields, J Lavery, S Harold, C Rafferty, K Dyas, E Rafferty; J Clarke, T Kernan, E McVerry
GALWAY: M Breathnach; D O’Neill, F Hanley, K Kelly; J Duane, G O’Donnell, G Sice; P Conroy, T Flynn; J O’Brien, S Armstrong, C Doherty; M Martin, M Meehan, D Cummins.
– Malachy Clerkin
Derry v Cavan,
Celtic Park, today, 5pm
It’s hard not to feel some sympathy for Cavan, or at least their deepening sense of Ulster claustrophobia. It certainly spilled over in last week’s second round win over Fermanagh, the team they’d already beaten in the provincial stages, as the game resulted in three red cards and 15 yellows.
The prize for all of that is a fifth successive all-Ulster clash, this time in Derry’s own Celtic Park den .