Armagh manager Peter McDonnell will get an opportunity to assess his resources when Dublin visit the Primatial City tomorrow for a special challenge game to mark the official opening of the superb Pearse Og Park (3.00).
McDonnell has been shorn of a raft of talent lately with the retirements of Francie Bellew, Paul McGrane and Paddy McKeever as well as the unexpected defections of other members of his squad.
But the orchard county boss remains upbeat as he continues his preparations for the eagerly-awaited Ulster Championship clash with All Ireland champions Tyrone at Clones on Sunday May 31.
“We still have a lot of talent in there and we want to maximise our opportunity to retain the Ulster title. The fact that we are meeting Dublin gives us a chance to see where we are,” says McDonnell.
In their final National League game Armagh were soundly beaten by Cork (0-19 to 1-7) following which McDonnell shipped some criticism.
But since then a number of players, including Steven McDonnell and Aaron Kernan, have confirmed that the spirit in the side is good and that the players are totally focussed on their task against Tyrone.
Vice-captain McDonnell, who has skippered Ulster in the Railway Cup in the past, said: “There appears to be gloom and doom about among fans but the players are really looking forward to meeting Tyrone. This is obviously a massive game for us and we want to be ready.”
In addition to Kernan and McDonnell, Armagh’s other experienced players are captain Ciaran McKeever, defenders Paul Hearty and Andy Mallon along with forwards Brian Mallon, Ronan Clarke and Martin O’Rourke.
Manager McDonnell is hoping to give game time to as many players as possible against the Dubs while visitors’ manager Pat Gilroy, in his first season in charge, is also keen to assess his squad.