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Time Armagh put on a great show: Vernon

By John Campbell

Consistency has proved an elusive element from Armagh’s perspective over the past 12 months.

An early victory over Derry in last year’s Ulster championship was followed by a humiliating defeat at the hands of Monaghan before expulsion from the Qualifiers came in a frenetic encounter against Dublin.

This year’s Barrett Sports Lighting Dr McKenna Cup provided mixed fortunes, surprise home defeats against Antrim and St Mary’s University College suggesting that manager Paddy O’Rourke had problems on his hand.

This theory was reinforced when the orchard county just managed to retain their place in Division One of the National League by the skin of their teeth.

But the quarter-final Ulster championship win over Down at the end of last month has sparked real optimism that the team’s erratic form can now be eradicated.

Midfield ace Charlie Vernon, whose ball-winning capacity in the last 10 minutes against Down played a big part in Armagh’s gallop down the home straight, believes that the players must now challenge themselves against Derry tomorrow.

“We have always believed that there are big championship performances within us but it’s a question of getting the level of consistency that we are seeking,” points out Vernon. “We had our ups and downs in the championship, especially when we flopped against Monaghan, so we have to guard against that tomorrow.

“We have to try and be very competitive every time we go out onto the park — certainly we will need to reach a new level tomorrow if we can.”

Having played with several of the Derry players in the Queen’s University side, Vernon is more than familiar with their style but suggests that no Ulster teams carry surprises up their sleeve any more.

“All Ulster sides virtually know each other inside out. Derry are a particularly strong side both in terms of physicality and skills. We know that while Fermanagh were not at their best when they played them, Derry still managed to look very impressive and John Brennan will have them well wound up for tomorrow,” states Vernon.

DONEGAL captain Michael Murphy has won his appeal against the red card which he received while helping his side overcome Cavan in the Ulster Championship last Sunday.

Murphy (22) was dismissed by referee Martin Duffy in the 16th minute but his card was rescinded following a meeting of the Competitions Control Committee.

Murphy will now lead his side out against Tyrone in next Sunday’s second provincial semi-final.

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