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Tyrone and Armagh are aiming to write the final chapter

By John Campbell

Tyrone and Armagh crossed swords last weekend in Division Two of the Allianz Football League and finished on level terms but they could yet meet shortly in another sphere.

Tonight, the Red Hands will put their Ulster and All-Ireland U21 titles on the line when they meet Donegal in the provincial semi-finals at Celtic Park, Derry while Armagh will confront Monaghan in the other last-four tie at Pairc Esler, Newry (both 8pm).

Tyrone skipper Frank Burns reiterates his team's desire to take each game as it comes in the defence of their two crowns but admits that Donegal - who beat Derry in the quarter-finals - will prove a tough nut to crack.

"We knew going into this competition that it was going to be a real battle," said Burns. "We are taking one step at a time. There is not a lot between the sides and it's very competitive."

Burns is one of several players in the Tyrone side that is already being hailed as a future star at senior level but the level-headed Pomeroy clubman is looking no further than tonight's contest.

"We had a tight game against Cavan in the quarters and it will be no different against Donegal. They'll be up for it and we need to show our best form if we want to make the final," he added.

Lee Brennan, Cathal McShane and Mark Kavanagh are key players in a Tyrone side that has prospered since the management triumvirate of Fergal Logan, Brian Dooher and Peter Canavan took over last year, guiding them to an All-Ireland final victory over Tipperary.

Armagh boss Peter McDonnell, meanwhile, is not reading too much into his team's 5-16 to 0-9 win over Down in the quarter-finals ahead of tonight's tie with Monaghan.

"Maybe Down did not have one of their better days. Monaghan showed by the manner in which they beat Fermanagh in the quarters that they are a good side and they will not fear us," insisted McDonnell.

While Monaghan will look to Conor McCarthy and Ferghal McGeough for inspiration, Armagh will parade a potent full-forward line in Cathal McKenna, Shane McPartlan and Conor Martin.

Between them they scored 4-9 against Down while Oisin O'Neill at midfield is another key figure.

O'Neill's high fielding, lengthy kick-passing and ability to pilfer points - he landed five against Down - make him an imposing player. McDonnell added: "It's good to see players get the chance to express themselves at this level and I believe that Monaghan will prove a real test for us."

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