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Doherty tips Donegal to topple Armagh

Both Paddy O’Rourke and John Joe Doherty know what it’s like to experience All Ireland success as players.

O’Rourke, the current Armagh manager, was captain when Down won a fourth All Ireland in 1991.

The following September it was Doherty’s turn to celebrate, Sam making his way to Donegal for the first time.

Management for both men is proving more challenging.

O’Rourke, in his first season with the Orchard County, led them to Allianz League Division Two success in Croke Park.

Victory over his native county was seen by many as a significant step forward in Armagh’s ongoing revival.

But life isn’t always so simple for after overcoming Derry in the Championship preliminary round in Celtic Park, they lost to Monaghan in Casement Park.

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They didn’t just lose — they were hammered by 12 points.

Losing half forward Brian Mallon for 40 minutes didn’t help but far more worrying from an Armagh perspective was the inept display with only one or two exceptions.

Paul Duffy put some of his more illustrious colleagues to shame with a totally committed display.

It’s the only way he knows to play the game and his colleagues must follow his example if they are to erase the memory of the Casement Park hammering.

Duffy was still winning ball and driving forward when the game was well beyond Armagh.

Only if his colleagues can step up to the plate can the home side entertain any hopes making the next round of the All Ireland Football Qualifiers.

Just now Armagh boss Paddy O’Rourke isn’t spoiled for choice when it comes to team selection which makes it imperative that he maximises what quality he has.

Early in the season Armagh’s defence looked a more solid unit when deploying a sweeper.

For some reason against Monaghan they decided to change and Monaghan could hardly believe their luck as they picked off scores at will.

John Joe Doherty’s men bowed out of the Ulster Championship race after losing to Down.

But they are relishing the prospect of putting one over on Armagh for earlier this season they shipped a 16 points defeat at the hands of Armagh in Letterkenny. Manager Doherty is convinced Armagh will bring the best out of his side.

“It’s arguably the biggest of the first round ties. Last season in the Qualifiers we had two Division Four sides Carlow and Clare as opponents and while we won we didn’t play especially well,” he said. “It was only when we met Derry and progressed that we started to raise our game to a different level.

“Armagh are now another big draw and we’ll have no problems motivating ourselves for that one.

“Armagh have a good record against us in recent times, but we beat them in Ballybofey two seasons ago and that’s the level of performance I’ll be looking from every player.”

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