Armagh expecting a kick from Derry in Celtic Park Ulster derby says Barry McCambridge

Defeat to Orchard will mean Mickey Harte’s side can’t top Group One and go direct to quarters

David Clifford of Kerry (centre) tussles with Barry McCambridge (left) and Aaron McKay of Armagh during the Allianz Football League Division One match between Kerry and Armagh at Austin Stack Park in Tralee  Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Barry McCambridge (left) tussles with David Clifford as Armagh lock horns with Kerry in Tralee Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

BARRY McCambridge had “about 20 seconds” to get ready to start Armagh’s All-Ireland opener against Westmeath and the Clann Eireann defender says the Orchardmen will be ready for the “kick” he expects from Derry on Sunday.

McCambridge was a late replacement for Paddy Burns in the starting line-up as Armagh won their home group game and – after losing their opener to Galway in Salthill – Mickey Harte’s Derry need to do the same at Celtic Park or they’ll have no chance of winning the group and going straight into the quarter-finals.

That defeat in Galway meant the Oak Leafers have lost back-to-back games in the Championship but Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney believes they remain a very potent force and McCambridge agrees.

“They need to get back on the wheel and they’re at home so they’ll be really up for it after what happened in the Ulster Championship and in Galway,” he said.

“There’s definitely going to be a kick in them. They were Division One winners for a reason – they beat Dublin, they beat all the big teams in the League, so we know fine-rightly it’s not going to be easy going up there.”

McCambridge said he was “just happy to get on the field” after his late call-up last Saturday and the Clann Eireann clubman can consider himself unlucky not to see more action for his county.

Tyrone forward Darragh Canavan up against Armagh's Barry McCambridge. Pic Philip Walsh
Barry McCambridge shadows Tyrone's Darragh Canavan. Pic Philip Walsh

A consistent and reliable performer, he came on for Aaron McKay in the quarter-final win over Fermanagh but didn’t feature against Down or Donegal before he slotted back into the Orchard rearguard against Westmeath.

McCambridge – brother of Armagh ladies’ skipper Clodagh – said the Orchard players needed time to get over the disappointment of the Ulster final loss but, with the All-Ireland series coming hard on the heels of the Ulster Championship, they didn’t have long to lick their wounds.

“I’m not going to lie, it’s hard,” he said.

“And it’s always going to be but it gets to the point where you have to get back to it. We only had a two-week turnaround so we had a couple of days to ourselves and then we got together and had a session to get the bodies and heads right and have a bit of craic.

“What can you do? You’ve got to get going again because we knew after last year that Westmeath were going to come with everything and they did. They won Division Three, they beat Down who took us right to the end in the Ulster semi but we were able to control the game a wee bit better and push on and we’re just happy to get the win.”

Armagh had nine scorers against Westmeath and they will need the something similar against Derry. The Oak Leafers – who will be without suspended Gareth McKinless this weekend – have conceded six goals in their last two games but they continue to create a lot of scoring chances. “It was a quick turnaround from the Ulster final but you need to just get back at it and get points on the board,” said McCambridge.

“Every game is tough no matter who you play because it’s Championship football and if you don’t get the win and the points on the board early you’ll be struggling. So it was good to get the win (against Westmeath) and get back on it for a big game against Derry.”