Down v Armagh, Sunday, 4 pm, Newry
Down and Armagh meet in the Ulster football championship quarter-final on Sunday in which a large attendance is expected at Newry. Both sides had reasonable league campaigns but as we all know championship football is a lot different.
Looking at Down first. They operated in Division 3 in 2019 and were very unlucky not to get promoted to Division 2 for the 2020 season. In 7 games, they won 5 and lost 2. They racked up 8-74 in those game, conceding 4 -73. Armagh operated in Division 2 of the football and finished just above the relegation zone. They were unlucky though as it could have been much better, they won 2, drew 2 and lost 3, so a mixed bag of results for Kieran McGeeney’s men.
On paper, this game is very hard to call both sides have some top players in their ranks. In defence players like Darren O’Hagan, Stephen Fegan and Gerard Collins will be key. Paul Devlin, Kevin McKernan, Connaire Harrison and Donal O’Hehir will be key men in the Mourne attack. Armagh has a solid and settled looking team now which is built around Aidan Forker at centre half back. Forker operated there for much of the league campaign. James Morgan and Aaron McKay are also very solid defenders. Stephen Sheridan and Niall Grimley are likely to continue in midfield, while in attack Stefan Campbell, Rory Grugan and Jamie Clarke will be key men.
The winners play either Cavan or Monaghan in the semi-final on the 2nd of June.
Last 5 Championship Meetings
2017 Down 0-15 Armagh 2-07 (Ulster quarter-final)
2011 Armagh 1-15 Down 1-10 (Ulster quarter-final)
2008 Armagh 1-12 Down 0-11 (Ulster semi-final)
2001 Armagh 1-13 Down 2-04 (All Ireland qualifiers)
1999 Armagh 3-12 Down 0-10 (Ulster final)
Armagh (Ulster SFC v Down): Blaine Hughes; Patrick Burns, Aaron McKay, Paul Hughes; Ryan Kennedy, Brendan Donaghy, Aidan Forker; Charlie Vernon, Jarlath Og Burns; Aidan Nugent, Ethan Rafferty, Jemar Hall; Rory Grugan, Rian O’Neill, Jamie Clarke
Very close in the betting again with Armagh slight favourites at 5/6 and Down 6/5. The draw is 15/2. I expect the game to be close as most Ulster football games are as well as low scoring. Armagh to win by 1-3 points at 11/4 looks the best for me.