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No win, no games as Ulster sides do battle

By John Campbell

There will be much more than pride at stake when Armagh and Donegal cross swords in the All Ireland football qualifiers on Saturday afternoon in Crossmaglen.

The winners can move on with the prospect of making further progress through the backdoor route.

The contrast with the losers could hardly be greater for whoever comes off second best will find themselves with no competitive football for six months.

Earlier in the season Donegal got the better of Armagh in the Ulster Under 21 football championship, but in Division Two of the Allianz League Armagh got revenge with a thumping 14 points victory in Letterkenny.

Victory over Down in the Division Two final followed by a similar outcome in the championship against Derry suggested better times ahead, but then the wheels came off against Monaghan at Casement Park.

It was a devastating setback for Paddy O’Rourke’s men and nothing less than victory in Crossmaglen will help salvage their season.

O’Rourke is already resigned to being without both the suspended Brian Mallon and Ryan Henderson, injured in a club match 10 days ago.

Newcomer Vinny Martin’s inexperience was badly exposed in the Monaghan game and changes can be expected in defence.

The half forward line continues to be a major concern, but the manager is scarcely spoiled for choice and Saturday afternoon may be an opportunity to draft in Stefan Forker.

Eamonn Magee is back in contention to play in his first competitive game for Donegal his season.

Magee may not start but his well being adds strength to a Donegal squad that has been rocked by suspension for Darren Molloy and the departure of Leo McLoone.

Belfast Telegraph

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