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Outclassed Armagh are now on a mission of redemption

By John Campbell

Armagh manager Paul Doyle believes his side will be presented with the best possible opportunity for atoning for their below-par display against Donegal in the Ulster final when they confront Mayo tomorrow in the All-Ireland Minor football championship at Croke Park.

As reigning champions, Mayo are perched proudly at the top of the minor tree having retained their Connacht title and shown the kind of form to date which kept them ahead of the chasing posse last year.

But while understandably disappointed that his side fell short in the Ulster decider, Doyle suggests that they can make amends at Croke Park.

"This is an opportunity for us to prove that we are a better side than we looked against Donegal.

"The prospect of playing at Croke Park is a huge incentive and while Mayo will be favourites we won't be going into the match feeling inferior," insists Doyle.

While Donegal looked sharper and much more purposeful in the Ulster final, Armagh have been working hard on their fitness, stamina and tactics in the meantime and Doyle believes that the fruits will be evident tomorrow.

"It's important that we get off to a good start in this game. We certainly can't afford to be chasing the game," points out Doyle.

Even though they played second fiddle to Donegal, Armagh nonetheless boast some clever forwards with Conor Grimley, Oisin O'Neill and skipper Caolan McConville in particular capable of both creating and taking scores.

O'Neill is a nephew of Armagh legend Oisin McConville and has clearly inherited his uncle's knack of being able to bisect the posts.

Jarlath Og Burns and Shane Conlon, though, will face a stiff battle at midfield while Aidan Rushe and Conor McNicholl are key figures in defence.

Mayo are well-equipped up front where Brian Reape and Cian Hanley will offer huge threats.

Gary Boylan, too, has been hitting the high spots recently having been on trial with Celtic following a stint with Sligo Rovers.

Mayo manager Enda Gilvarry has not been particularly impressed by his defence to date but feels that he has now taken the necessary action to ensure that Armagh will not flourish where it matters most – on the scoreboard.

The Orchard County are aware that rigid defence will be just one element required for success.

After all, when you are confronting a side targeting back-to-back All-Irelands, it takes a fusion of qualities to bring victory.

Belfast Telegraph


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