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Armagh star Aidan Forker aiming to sink his close friends

By John Campbell

Aidan Forker will find himself confronting familiar faces tonight - and hoping to heap ignominy on them.

The Maghery clubman will be at the helm of a St Mary's University College side that will arrive at the Athletic Grounds desperately hoping to chalk up a rare Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup victory.

Forker, who has matured into a quality forward in Armagh's colours, will instead be taking the fight to his native county tonight conscious that his personal contribution to the contest will be closely assessed by home boss Kieran McGeeney.

Along with Emmet Bradley, Aaron Beattie, Brian Og McGilligan, Paddy McBride, Thomas Canavan, the Johnston brothers Jerome and Ryan and agile goalkeeper James Deeney, Forker helps to provide a helping of experience in the students' line-up.

Manager Paddy Tally accepts that facing Armagh a few days after taking on Tyrone is just about as difficult as it can get for his side.

"There is a big difference between colleges' football and inter-county standard. There are differences in physicality, passing and pace and that's just for starters," points out Tally, who speaks from strong experience having trained the Tyrone side that won the All-Ireland title in 2003.

A win for Armagh would thrust them into the reckoning for a semi-final spot, something that would provide a modicum of consolation for the defeat by Tyrone earlier this month.

McGeeney will amend his attack, although Jamie Clarke is available after incurring two yellow cards against Antrim on Sunday. Just where he will be positioned in the starting line-up is anyone's guess but he looks certain to make his presence felt in attack at some stage.

UUJ, meanwhile, will travel to face Down in Newry tonight cushioned by that fine win over Cavan last Saturday.

Mayo sharpshooter Cillian O'Connor and Donegal All-Ireland winner Patrick McBrearty are expected to form a twin strike force for the Jordanstown outfit that will surely discomfit the home defence.

O'Connor was particularly sharp in the win over the Breffni county in which he proved himself as a creator and finisher.

Down projected themselves into the running for a last four place by virtue of their win over Monaghan at the weekend but they might find the lively students difficult to contain, especially should they get off to a good start.

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