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McDonnell is plotting more Orchard triumphs

By Declan Bogue

Armagh's Under-21 manager and 2003 Player of the Year, Stevie McDonnell, says his time playing with the Orchard County has equipped him with the knowledge to take on a management role.

They host Antrim tonight in the first round of the Ulster Championship, with three other quarter-finals occurring elsewhere.

McDonnell is well aware of the ability of this Saffrons team.

"We know we are facing a formidable team in Antrim," he said.

"They got to the final of the Shamrock Cup. Tyrone at underage level have been the benchmark for the last 15-20 years and they struggled to get across the line against Antrim in the final of the Shamrock Cup so that tells me that Antrim are going to be tough opposition and a hard team to break down. If we are not on our game, we will certainly struggle."

The ruthless honesty that the Armagh team had during McDonnell's playing days is something the under-21 team can learn from claimed the manager, who has also cut a couple of players from his panel.

"I made it clear to all my players at the very start that if anybody crossed that line of what happens within camp, that they won't be part of my plans. Players know where I stand on that," explained McDonnell.

"It's something I grew up being part of that team and something we were renowned for. I firmly believe that what happens in-house stays there and if anybody wants to talk, then there's no place to be involved in the county team, especially the Armagh county team."

FIXTURES (All games at 8pm): Armagh v Antrim, Athletic Grounds; Cavan v Tyrone, Kingspan Breffni Park; Donegal v Fermanagh, Ballybofey; Monaghan v Down, Inniskeen.

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