Brewster meeting will shape Armagh championship prep: Rory Grugan
WHICHEVER way things pan out in Croke Park on Saturday evening, Armagh captain Rory Grugan says their championship preparations will be based around events in Brewster Park two weeks ago.
The sides will contest the Division Three final this weekend in what will be the second of three clashes in the space of two months, with the teams having played out that 0-7 all draw in Enniskillen.
It was a wholly defensive affair in which 13-man Fermanagh bitterly clung on in the dying moments for a draw, and while that was enough to see Armagh promoted on the day, it also claimed a point for Rory Gallagher’s side which would prove crucial in securing their promotion a week later in Longford.
Orchard boss Kieran McGeeney said after that game he expected that it would be “a completely different game than it will be here in the summer.”
Their third meeting will be in the Ulster SFC back in Brewster Park on May 19 and Grugan feels that whether he is the one lifting silverware or not this weekend, their analysis will not centre on events in Croke Park.
“It’s funny the way it worked out, we maybe did envisage it down the line the way the league was panning out, you were thinking we could end up playing each other three times.
“The last game we played, you would have seen just how cagey and turgid a game it was, although it was bad conditions.
“We’ll be talking about that in the lead-up to this week, it’s a different environment in Croke Park and you always play what you see.
“In terms of our championship preparation, whatever way the game pans out this weekend, if we’re going back to look at a video and see what way the game will pan out on May 19, it’s going to be the first game in Brewster.
“A lot of it depends how it pans out at the weekend but you know you’re going back to Brewster in the summer, it’ll be the same tight pitch and the home crowd – that’s the experience we’ll be preparing for.
“There’s also the element of both teams having achieved a goal already with both already being promoted, and there’s an element of the pressure being off, which might play out that way in terms of how the game’s played.
“I’d say if I’m looking back on it this time next week in terms of getting ready for May 19, I know which experience I’ll be focussing on.”
The Ballymacnab man was on a break from inter-county football when the sides met in the 2015 Division Three final, which the Orchard won comfortably.
They were then absent from Croke Park until last year’s round four qualifier against Kildare, which brought a memorable sea of orange back to the Cusack Stand.
Enniskillen-based teacher Grugan says the prospect of playing at headquarters makes him “excited like a child” every time he gets the opportunity.
“From our perspective, it’s a chance to win silverware and from a personal experience, any time I get to play in Croke Park I’m excited like a child.
“Going in there as captain, it’s something you dream of, maybe lifting silverware in Croke Park. Purely from a personal perspective, I’d love to go and win the final on Saturday.
“With the backdrop of championship down the line in seven weeks as well, there’s an element of wanting to go and win this game but also learn things that we can take into our preparation for the championship game.”