Armagh SFC: St Pat's forwards can Pearse Ogs' defence
Donnelly Group Armagh Senior Football Championship
THE remaining two first round games in the Armagh Senior Football Championship are down for decision tomorrow starting with league champions St Patrick’s, Cullyhanna up against Pearse Og, the only side to have clipped the wings of Crossmaglen over the last two decades.
The venue is Ballymacnab (3.15pm) followed by Wolfe Tone’s and Grange at Maghery (6pm).
While St Pat’s will start favourites, the loss of leading marksman Aidan Nugent and classy defender Micheal Murray could very well lengthen their odds.
One of the most improved sides in the county, they have yet to win a senior championship but would be looked upon this year as one of the closest challengers to Cross.
Managed by Mick O’Dowd, the south Armagh outfit will be hoping to continue their league form and will no doubt be targeting their two big inside men Malachy Mackin and Pearse Casey to unravel the Ogs defence.
Stephen Reel, Sean Connell, Gary McCooey, Paudie McCreesh, Barry McConville and Shea Hoey are all highly experienced and there will certainly be no shortage of hunger.
Ogs, under Adrian Clarke, started the league in whirlwind fashion, winning the first five games but fell away badly in the latter half of the competition.
Captained by leading scorer Marc Cullen, they will be missing a number of regulars so much will rest on the shoulders of veterans like Paul Duffy and Chris Rafferty.
Forwards Ross Clarke, Shay Freeman and Thomas Turley will find themselves up against a hugely tenacious defence and a lot will depend on how they fare out.
Cullyhanna look the bet.
Wolfe Tone’s and Grange were both trap door victims in the senior league, A and B respectively, so both have a lot of pride to play for.
Managed by former county star Peter Rafferty, it looks as if Grange will be without their county man Ethan Rafferty who is in America while their other county representative Miceal McKenna is an injury concern.
This would be a telling double loss leaving Cathal McKenna, Mark Magee and Daire Mallon to work all the harder up front.
A team with a fine championship tradition, Mark Toal and Shaun Toal, Barry Murphy, Andrew O’Hagan, Stephen McAneney and Colm Rafferty will not be found wanting.
The verdict, however, may go the way of the Derrymacash men, especially if Finnian Moriarty, Declan Lavery, Niall Geoghegan, James Doyle and Johnny McCarron hit form from midfield up.
Captain James Martin, Ryan McQuillan and Ruairi McCaughley are tried and trusted defenders.
With both teams anxious to bounce back from a disappointing league run it should be competitive to say the least.