O'Neill can prove key to Armagh's bid to salavge triumph from adversity
Armagh manager Peter McDonnell expects to get formal confirmation today on just who will and who will not be available to him for tomorrow’s Ulster U20 football championship final against Derry at St Ternach’s Park, Clones.
The Mullaghbawn man has spent a frustrating week awaiting the outcome of three disciplinary hearings relating to the proposed suspensions served on a number of his players following the fracas that marred the team’s provincial semi-final win over Tyrone last weekend.
In all, 10 bans were imposed and up until yesterday only one, that relating to Sean McCarthy had been rescinded. As McDonnell awaits the outcome of his county board’s decision to take the entire suspensions issue to the Central Appeals Committee, he must nonetheless strive to assess the personnel that will be at his disposal and formulate his strategy.
It seems certain that McDonnell will turn to players such as Conor Turbet, Barry McCambridge, Cathair McGeary, Callum O’Neill, Shea Loye and Rian O’Neill to underpin his team’s bid to upset the applecart.
And it’s Rian O’Neill, with has two years of senior experience at club level with Crossmaglen Rangers under his belt, who could perhaps do most to fashion Armagh’s challenge.
O’Neill, who can play in midfield or attack, possesses the versatility, skill and pace to unhinge the Derry defence in which Jude McAtamney, Conor McCluskey and Darragh Rafferty have been making a big impact to date.
Derry are particularly well served at midfield where Oisin McWilliams normally wields a big influence, while up front his brother Lorcan joins Ben McCarron and Declan Cassidy to form a potent strike force that was very impressive in the wins over Donegal and Down.