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Orchard seek to overcome heartbreak of final defeat

By John Campbell

Their heartbreaking defeat to Roscommon in last year's Nicky Rackard Cup final undoubtedly provides Armagh with the biggest possible spur for their return to Croke Park today and another appearance in the final in which they will meet Mayo on this occasion (3.30pm).

It was a last-gasp goal that saw the trophy prised from the Orchard county's grasp in 2015 and for seasoned defender Ciaran Clifford the memories of that sombre occasion remain all too vivid.

"It was just real sickening, there's no other way of putting it," says Clifford. "But now that we are going back to Croke Park we want to do ourselves justice."

Armagh's handsome semi-final win over Fingal (3-19 to 1-11) has bolstered confidence with the superb consistency of hot-shot Ryan Gaffney (0-25) and the strike rate of Conor Corvan (5-14) lending substance to the belief that the team can come good this time.

But Mayo go into battle buoyed by having claimed an earlier win over Armagh in the competition and cushioned by a wealth of experience which is epitomised by Keith Higgins, Ciaran Charlton, Sean Regan,Kenny Feeney and Darren McTigue.

They beat Donegal in the semi-final and their resilience, pace and finishing skills will certainly test Armagh to the full today.

"While it's great to be in the final again, this time we have to win it," says Clifford.

"We have a fair bit of experience in our side and that should stand to us. Hopefully our supporters will be out in force today to help get us over the line."

Belfast Telegraph


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