Orchard need to step it up to have any chance, says McDonnell
Armagh Under-20s football manager Peter McDonnell certainly paints a grim picture as his team prepare to enter tomorrow night's Ulster Under-20s Football Championship quarter-final against Derry at Owenbeg (8.00pm)
The Orchard county endured an indifferent campaign in the recent Leo Murphy Cup competition and now they must go in against an Oak Leaf side which won the inaugural Under-20 Championship last year and which includes several members of that triumphant side.
"We could hardly be facing a tougher task," admits McDonnell. "A lot of these Derry players played in the All-Ireland minor final against Kerry a couple of years ago and they have developed strongly since then, so it's not hard to gauge the task that we face."
Be that as it may, McDonnell is hoping that his side can lift their game. Skipper Cormac Smyth leads an outfit that is particularly keen to reach the provincial Under-20 decider.
"We had one win and a loss in the Leo Murphy Cup and we know we are now going in against what is a good Derry side. We may be a very young side but I feel that we have players about whom more will be heard shortly. We're a developing side and this game will test us," states Smyth.
"We have a number of players in our side who are coming through strongly and, although it might take a little time yet, we feel we have the capacity to get better."
Meanwhile, a Fermanagh side that could include a few players who have gained senior experience will take on Donegal in tomorrow night's other quarter-final at Brewster Park, Enniskillen (8.00pm).
Fermanagh are hopeful of making progress at under-age level now that St Michael's College, Enniskillen have provided the county with a major fillip by winning the MacRory and Hogan Cups.
Tomorrow night the Ernesiders, skippered by St Patrick's, Donagh player Cameron McBrien, will meet a Donegal outfit that includes a number of players who made impressive strides at minor level prior to coming into the Under-20 squad.
There is renewed optimism at under-age level in Fermanagh right now and, although the team faces a huge task against what is a well-drilled Donegal side, there is a feeling that they could still go places.
The fact that Under-20 teams competed in the Leo Murphy and Philly McGuinness Cups means that teams are not entering the Championship arena cold.