GAA Football

Armagh v Donegal - key battle, tactical take and analysis

Stefan Campbell was superb as Armagh ended the reign of All-Ireland champions Tyrone last weekend. Picture by Philip Walsh
Neil Loughran

KEY BATTLE

Stefan Campbell (Armagh) v Eoghan Ban Gallagher (Donegal)

CAMPBELL is the man of the moment after a superb display against Tyrone last week. The question is, with a tendency to blow hot and cold, which ‘Soupy’ will show up in Clones tomorrow?

The Lurgan dynamo still made a few poor decisions against the Red Hands, but his energy and influence drove the Orchard on. Confidence soaring, he finished with a flourish, bagging two classy second half scores. That Stefan Campbell is seriously hard to contain.

Reflecting on the two previous clashes between the counties in recent months, however, he had little influence in the League encounter in Letterkenny - withdrawn midway through the second half - while Armagh’s race was run by the time the 30-year-old was introduced in Ballybofey.

Gallagher has been superb for Donegal so far this year, his anticipation and intelligence from centre-back proving beyond doubt there is much more than speed to his game. An intriguing battle awaits.

TACTICAL TAKE

DONEGAL played the Ulster clash on their terms and were rewarded with a more straightforward win than most had predicted.

With that blanket of big men lined up around the middle, Armagh couldn’t find a way through. In an utterly dominant first half, Donegal lorded both sets of kick-outs – winning eight of Armagh’s and all their own, the Orchard clearly fearful of the damage Shaun Patton could do.

How Declan Bonner’s men were only three points ahead remains a mystery.

Armagh cannot afford to make the same mistakes, and the evidence of last week’s victory over Tyrone is that they will be braver and bolder than in Ballybofey. They have to be, while also avoiding playing into Donegal hands by kicking the ball straight to them.

Despite growing calls for Michael Murphy to be predominantly stationed in the square, Bonner will likely persist with the Glenswilly man in a deeper role. Given the success Brendan Rogers had running off him in the Ulster final, Aidan Forker will fancy pushing him onto the back foot.

With Paddy Burns unlikely to feature due to the hamstring injury that forced him off last week, McGeeney could opt to shuffle his pack by starting Andy Murnin up top alongside Aidan Nugent, allowing Rian O’Neill to drift out around the middle where Armagh cannot be so easily swept aside again – or they will face the same end result.

POSSIBLE MATCH-UPS

ARMAGH

E Rafferty

A McKay J Morgan

P McBrearty J Brennan

G McCabe

C O’Neill A Forker J Og Burns

P Mogan M Murphy M Langan

S Sheridan B Crealey R O’Neill

J McGee C Thompson B McCole

H McFadden

R Grugan S Campbell J Duffy

O McFadden-Ferry E Ban Gallagher R McHugh

A Nugent A Murnin

C Ward S McMenamin

S Patton

DONEGAL

REFEREE

Brendan Cawley (Kildare)

WHERE TO WATCH IT

RTE2, coverage begins at 3.45pm

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