Ulster champions Armagh put title on the line against Tyrone in semi-final clash

Armagh needed a goal from Aimee Mackin to see off Tyrone in their league meeting earlier this year

Ulster Senior Championship semi-final: Armagh (holders) v Tyrone (tonight, Athletic Grounds, 7.45pm)

ULSTER champions Armagh are in semi-final action tonight when they put their title on the line against neighbours Tyrone at the Athletic Grounds.

This is a repeat of the last year’s semi-final, which Armagh won with ease on their way to a first Ulster title since 2014. The sides met more recently in the opening game of the league and although Armagh continued their winning form over their neighbours, they needed a 59th minute Aimee Mackin penalty to grind out a one-point win. That was a game Tyrone will have felt they should have won or at the very least come away with a share of the spoils after dominating for long periods. That defeat led to two more league losses and Tyrone found themselves in a relegation play-off with Wexford two weekends ago. They saved their Division Two status with an 11-goal pummelling of their opponents and coming into this evening’s game that will give them renewed confidence against the champions.

Kevin McCrystal’s side were also buoyed by the return from injury of stalwart defender Neamh Woods for that game and the Drumragh player hopes they can push Armagh all the way.

“I am delighted to have recovered from injury and got back into action against Wexford and have since played one club game. It's great to be back on the pitch again,” said Woods.

“We are looking forward to our game this weekend against Armagh. They are the reigning Ulster Champions and we had a close encounter with them earlier this season in the National League. We are looking forward to what will be another tough challenge against our neighbours.

“Armagh certainly had a superb 2020 season and set the benchmark for many teams. After beating them in the National League last year, we lost out to them in the Ulster and All-Ireland championship but there was little between the two sides in the opening National League game this year.”

Armagh manager Ronan Murphy is expecting a real test from Tyrone this evening and knows his side must be at their best if they are to reach the decider, where Donegal await.

“Tyrone will be formidable opposition on Friday night and if we are not performing to the best of our ability then Tyrone have some really, really good players and they are going to capitalise on that,” said Murphy.

“We will just have to be at our best to get a result on Friday night. It doesn’t really matter who you play at this level, if you don’t work to the necessary standard and you don’t perform then you will get beaten. It doesn’t matter whether it is Tyrone, Monaghan or Cavan, whoever it is you really have to perform and it’s championship football and it’s on the day, whoever performs better so past results means absolutely nothing.

“We’re in an Ulster semi-final and then All-Ireland campaign so everybody is looking forward to the games. It is the cut and thrust of championship so we know we have to really perform to win every game. There’s pressure on of course but that is what championship football brings.”

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