Belief now a potent weapon for Armagh: Forker
Aidan Forker has spent eight years diligently toiling at the coalface for Armagh yet has no tangible rewards to show for his endeavours.
Yet far from being disillusioned, Forker hopes to bring renewed energy to the table when his side meet Monaghan in tomorrow's All-Ireland qualifier at St Tiernach's Park, Clones (7pm).
And he credits his colleagues in the side with his fresh sense of pride in the jersey and dedication to the cause.
"I think there has been a growing sense of belief within the team and this has helped to bond us even more strongly," pointed out schoolteacher Forker.
"We had two very hard battles against Cavan and while we did not get over the line at the end of the day, we discovered more about ourselves and we feel that those games have sharpened our appetites further for the clash with Monaghan."
Monaghan's eclipse by Cavan in the Ulster Championship provided an early shock in the competition and while the Oriel side will start as the favourites when they go in against the Orchard County tomorrow, Forker is hopeful that lessons which his side have absorbed in the Championship to date will stand them in good stead.
"We know that we can compete against the top teams and we accept that Monaghan, just like Cavan, will have us well sussed out but that's nothing more than you would expect," pointed out Forker.
"This is overall a fairly young Armagh team and we always try to grow and get better with each passing game.
"Obviously you are going to encounter ups and downs but you have to be ready for the challenges."
Forker will again be a key figure for Armagh tomorrow and his experience of playing against Malachy O'Rourke's side could prove a vital factor in his team combating the opposition strategy.
O'Rourke himself is philosophical as he contemplates a game which many did not believe would be on his team's schedule given their prime ranking in advance of the Ulster Championship.
"We are where we are no matter how you look at it," reflected the Monaghan boss. "If you take our first qualifier against Fermanagh, we got off to a really bad start and right away we were chasing the game.
"The way in which Fermanagh set up made it difficult for us to break them down. And it certainly won't be any easier for us against Armagh, of course."
It was with relief more than delight that O'Rourke welcomed the outcome of the game and he is hoping for a more convincing performance.
"The only thing that mattered to me against Fermanagh was reaching the next round. But we will be looking for a more polished display against Armagh," insisted O'Rourke.