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We must do fans proud at Croke Park, says Armagh ace Jarly Og Burns


Jarly Og Burns is convinced Armagh can reach a new high against Galway

Jarly Og Burns is convinced Armagh can reach a new high against Galway

©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Jarly Og Burns is convinced Armagh can reach a new high against Galway

The younger breed of stars in particular within the Armagh team are slowly but surely becoming acclimatised to a new epidemic which has engulfed their county.

But this particular epidemic does not come with a health warning – rather, it is considered as the perfect pick-me-up.

A flamboyant opening to the Allianz League which was highlighted by wins over Dublin and Tyrone was followed by a more modest second phase of the competition before somewhat flagging spirits were utterly deflated when the orchard county were brought to their knees by Donegal in the Ulster Championship opener.

But an out of the blue first round qualifier victory over Tyrone and an even more emphatic triumph over Donegal in the second round of the qualifiers breathed new life into a county that had been enveloped in depression.

Suddenly, a whole new vista emerged and when Kieran McGeeney’s side were paired with Galway in Sunday’s quarter-final, normal life appeared to go on hold as football rather than Covid-19 or the hike in the cost of living became the prime topic of conversation.

Not since the county lost the run of itself when Armagh under the capable baton of Joe Kernan won their only All-Ireland title to date twenty years ago has football enjoyed such a centre-stage role in life itself.

And players such as joint captains Aidan Nugent and Rian O’Neill, Ben Crealey, Jemar Hall, Jason Duffy and Jarly Og Burns have gained an insight as to just what football means to the population at large.

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Dynamic wing-back Burns appears to wield increasing influence within the side with each passing game. He played himself to a standstill in the wins over Tyrone and Donegal yet still had sufficient breath in their aftermath to acknowledge the part he felt the team’s followers played in the wins.

“Armagh fans have always been brilliant and they have now provided us with extra impetus,” states Burns, “They have been waiting a long time for this."

Yet when Ciaran Mackin and Niall Grimley were laid low with injuries, it was thought that Armagh would struggle at midfield but Stephen Sheridan and Ben Crealey have stepped up to the mark in spectacular style.

Crealey’s imposing display against Donegal and the subtle manner in which Sheridan tucked away his team’s third goal in that game would suggest that the duo are intent on extending their tenure in the middle of the park.

“It’s great to be involved and the enthusiasm of the fans is unbelievable,” insists the fiercely committed Sheridan.

With Jemar Hall and Jason Duffy having cemented their reputations as starters in the attack, the team’s fire-power has been enhanced with Duffy in particular turning in an outstanding performance in the win over Donegal.

“It is just brilliant to be part of the set-up and hopefully we will have another good day against Galway,” states  Cullyhanna clubman Duffy.

But while Armagh assistant manager Kieran Donaghy is delighted with the team’s arrival in the All-Ireland quarter-finals, he sounds a note of warning.

“Galway have gained promotion in the league, won the Connacht title again and  will be very keen to advance further in the All-Ireland series,” says Donaghy.

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