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Armagh hurlers out for revenge after Down football win

By John Campbell

It's head-scratching time in Armagh right now. And the big poser is – when were the hurlers last entrusted with the county's honour?

With the footballers having gleaned one point from a possible four to date in the league after a depressing McKenna Cup campaign, the hurlers will bid to restore Orchard County pride when they open their Division 2B campaign against Down on Sunday.

And as new manager John Lennon gets to grips with the demands of his role, he has suddenly been presented with the task of overturning at least one stark statistic.

"Armagh lost to Down at the weekend in the football and now we are hoping that we can avoid a double defeat at the hands of our neighbours," explains Derrynoose clubman Lennon.

"The team were already fired up for this clash but the possibility of gaining a measure of revenge for the football team's setback is an added incentive to get the league campaign off on the right note."

Lennon has been impressed with his players' attitude in training and while he concedes that he will be missing some experienced competitors, including Dublin-based sharpshooter Declan Coulter, he nonetheless believes that with home advantage Armagh have the capacity to shock Gerard Monan's side.

Down suffered a double blow when they lost in the semi-final of the Kehoe Cup and then bowed the knee to Antrim in the deferred 2013 Ulster final all within the space of 24 hours earlier this month.

Yet Lennon suggests this could make the team even more hungry for success.

"We have lost the big ball game to Down and we would not like to lose the small ball game to them but we know they will bring a huge hunger to the table," he says.

"We have been trying to integrate with the footballers in terms of the levels of training they do and the facilities they avail of.

"We are also trying to blend our Under-21 and senior squads and it is our hope that within the next 18 months or two years we will have a senior team that will be competing well up in the leagues."

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