Armagh's collective effort make them a dangerous opponent: Peter Canavan
TYRONE legend Peter Canavan has heaped praise on Armagh’s collective efforts in reaching Saturday’s All-Ireland quarter-finals – and highlighted the defensive brilliance of Brendan Donaghy in the Orchard County’s win over Kildare last weekend.
The Red Hands lie in wait for Kieran McGeeney’s Armagh side who have carved an impressive path through the All-Ireland Qualifiers following their surprise provincial defeat to Down on June 4.
Since that devastating loss, Armagh have rehabilitated themselves with Qualifier wins over Fermanagh, Westmeath, Tipperary and Kildare.
They rode their luck against Westmeath but the team undoubtedly found their stride against Tipp and the Lilywhites.
“A few weeks back you would have said there are very few stars on the Armagh team and if they’re going to deliver it’s going to be a concerted effort from everybody putting their shoulder behind the wheel – and we’re starting to see that now,” said Canavan.
Jamie Clarke's virtuoso display against Kildare earned rave reviews but equally impressive was Donaghy who was superb from start to finish.
“I’ve never seen Brendan Donaghy having a better game in an Armagh jersey,” Canavan said. “He was absolutely outstanding from a defensive point of view and going forward as well.
“He came out with the ball, he was setting up scores and he took a great point himself.
“It was just his reading of the game. Kildare might have had two goal chances in the first half only for Brendan Donaghy being the last man, coming across and at the end of the game he caught a high ball when you might have expected some Armagh players to break it.
“If Clarke was inspirational at the front, Donaghy was certainly inspirational at the back.”
Donaghy made his Championship debut in an Ulster Championship defeat to Donegal in Ballybofey 10 years ago.
Always a regular in the Armagh side, the Clonmore man was plagued by knee tendonitis for a few seasons that threatened to end his inter-county career.
Crucially, Donaghy retains that burst of pace that saw him perform several heroic acts to deny Kildare in last weekend’s pulsating Round Four Qualifier at Croke Park.
Canavan added: “Paudge Quinn, a club-mate of mine, is managing Clonmore at the minute and Paudge raves about Brendan Donaghy.”
While Armagh’s rise this season has been nothing short of meteoric, a team’s fall from grace can be equally eye-catching.
“It’s all about the here and now,” said Canavan.
“The crossover point for a team can come very suddenly – and you take a hammering and your team is gone, finished, your team is past its best.
“So nobody sees that line coming. It hits you and hits you very fast. It could happen Dublin at some stage.
“With Armagh, when you’re on a roll you make the most of it. They have made remarkable improvements in a very short space of time and they are a young team but this is the first time we’ll see them against a Division One side [in Tyrone].”