Aaron Kernan received the perfect boost in advance of Armagh’s Ulster senior football championship semi-final against Derry now that he has become the latest winner of the Quinn Insurance Ulster GAA Writers’ Association monthly merit award.
His father Joe and brothers Stephen, Tony and Paul are all past winners of the Writers’ Association award and Aaron’s triumph completes the family circle of success.
The 27-year-old wing-back was outstanding in his team’s shock Ulster quarter-final win over Down when his clever linking between defence and attack proved instrumental in their 1-15 to 1-10 victory.
But while delighted to be in the provincial semi-final on Sunday week, Kernan acknowledges that Armagh face a tough task against Derry.
“While we were very pleased to get that win over Down we know that Derry will be particularly strong opponents in the semi-final because of the desire they have to end their Ulster championship title famine,” points out Kernan.
“We are aware that their manager John Brennan will have them well motivated and we will need to improve further on our display against Down if we are to win again.”
Having spent seven years in the Armagh side, he is regarded as one of its senior citizens bringing as he does a level of maturity in both thought and action to his play.
And while he is pleased that other old hands such as Ciaran McKeever, Steven McDonnell, Andy Mallon, Kieran Toner, Paul Hearty and Brendan Donaghy are still doing the business, he is particularly satisfied to note the impact that the relatively new players have made.
“People like Jamie Clarke, Billy Joe Padden, Micheál O’Rourke and Kevin Dyas are doing very well in the side now and the win over Down has given us all a bit of extra confidence,” says Kernan.
“But we know that Derry have a lot of experience and craft in their side. Besides they will be very fit and they have good resources on their bench.”
Having won four provincial championship medals and represented Ulster in the inter-provincial championship, Kernan has amassed a wealth of experience.
In addition, he has been a fixture in the all-conquering Crossmaglen Rangers side for almost a decade during which period he has won a shoal of honours.
“I am very lucky to be part of what is a very good Crossmaglen side and our victory in the All-Ireland club final in March was particularly sweet, “says Kernan.
“It was great to afterwards return to the county panel and be in the Armagh team for the last couple of matches in the National League before we began to focus strongly on the championship.”
Derry boss Brennan finds himself confronted by problems for the game. Gerard O’Kane sustained an injury while playing for Glenullin against Kilrea on Sunday, skipper Barry McGoldrick is shaking off the after-effects of a recent knock and Enda Muldoon’s fitness is being assessed after he was substituted in the 47th minute in the win over Fermanagh.
Brennan, though, expects to have Michael Friel and Joe Diver available again for midfield while Conleith Gilligan and Eoin Bradley will spearhead his attack.