Manager Joe Kernan made the confident prediction after yesterday's win over the 2001 All-Ireland champions Galway at the opening of the redeveloped Pearse Stadium yesterday.
Galway began the game with Michael Donnellan at centre-back, in one of six changes in personnel from the win over Roscommon at the same venue a week earlier. Over the course of the 70 minutes he made a few dashes upfield, but wasn't involved a lot in the play. John O'Mahony wasn't giving much away about the management intentions with a view to starting Donnellan there against Leitrim in the championship semi-final in Carrick-on-Shannon next Sunday.
Galway made the early running, with Padraic Joyce making the most from free-taking opportunities and the backs generally in control. Particularly prominent, at left-half, was Kevin Brady, a dual U21 player last season.
Armagh played their best football in defence where Aidan O'Rourke was most impressive, but it was notable that Ronan Clarke playing his first full game since the All-Ireland final looked off the pace. However, he was to make a big impact in the second half, as did Oisin McConville.
It was 0-9 to 0-6 at the break.
Scores were level for the first of four times in the 44th minute when Aidan O'Rourke got the only goal of the game and after taking the lead for the first time, through Paddy McKeever 12 minutes later, the visitors had a deserved win.
Scorers for Armagh: O. McConville 0-7 (0-5 frees); A. O'Rourke 1-1; P. McKeever (0-1 free) and S. McDonnell 0-2 each; P. McGrane, M. O'Rourke and B. O'Hagan 0-1 each. Galway: P. Joyce 0-8 frees; N. Joyce 0-2; M. Donnellan, D. Savage, J. Fallon, K. Comer and M. Clancy 0-1 each.
ARMAGH: P. Hearty; P. McCormack, J. McNulty, F. Bellew; A. O'Rourke, T. McEntee, A. McCann; J. McEntee, P. McGrane; M. O'Rourke, B . O'Hagan, O. McConville; S. McDonnell, R. Clarke, D. Mackin.
Subs: P. Loughran for J. McEntee; P. McKeever for Mackin.
GALWAY: B. Donoghue; K. Fitzgerald, G. Fahey, R. Fahey; D. Meehan, M. Donnellan, K. Brady; K. Walsh (capt.), J. Bergin; L. O Collarain, J. Fallon, D. O'Brien; D. Savage, P. Joyce, N. Joyce.
Subs: S. Og de Paor for D. Meehan; T. Meehan for R. Fahey; K. Comer for Fitzgerald; T. Joyce for O Collarain; B. Dooney for G. Fahey; J. Devane for Savage; T. Carton for Bergin.
Referee: M. Curley (Galway).
BRIAN CODY summed it up well when he remarked that, as challenge matches go, 'this was a decent match.'
Like the Allianz National Hurling League final, which the All-Ireland champions won by a point in dramatic fashion, this was another high-scoring contest, in Pearse Stadium yesterday. And, they seemed to be heading for victory after D.J. Carey put over a 65 yards free until Kevin Broderick levelled from play in injury time.
Galway are in the middle of their championship preparations, without knowing who they will meet on June 13 until the qualifier draw is made. Interestingly, their top scorer yesterday was Rory Gantley, who had been suspended from the panel after opting to play with his club on the day Cork were visitors here in the league.
Kilkenny picked off good scores in the first half against a Galway team which was slow to settle, but which benefited from an early Damien Hayes goal. The home side did well to be level at the break, 1-7 to 0-10, following a late score from Gantley.
Introducing Eddie Brennan, Henry Shefflin and D.J. Carey to their attack on the resumption, Kilkenny moved quickly into a commanding positions following goals from Brennan, Shefflin and Carter. However, it was a case of flattering to deceive against the strong wind, with Galway gaining inspiration from goals from the impressive Kevin Broderick and Cathal Moore.
Four minutes from the end they finally drew level, through Gantley's close-in free, with the referee not allowing a David Tierney goal scored after a free had been awarded to him. Brian McEvoy and Hayes swopped points before D.J. Carey scored what promised to be a winning score until Broderick hit the equaliser.
Scorers: Galway R. Gantley 0-7 (0-3 frees, 0-1 seventy); K. Broderick, C. Moore and D. Hayes 1-2 each; K. Burke, M. Kerins and R. Murray 0-1 each. Kilkenny: C. Carter 1-2; E. Brennan and H. Shefflin 1-1 each; J. Coogan 0-3;D. Mackey, D.J. Carey (0-1 free) and B. McEvoy 0-2 each; P. Tennyson, A. Cummins and C. Phelan 0-1 each.
GALWAY: C. Callanan; D. Joyce, L. Hodgins, O. Canning (capt.); T. Og Regan, D. Cloonan, B. Mahony; D. O'Brien, R. Gantley; R. Murray, C. Moore, D. Tierney; D. Hayes, M. Kerins, K. Broderick.
Subs: J. Conroy for O'Mahony (41st); K. Burke for Murray (47th).
KILKENNY: P.J. Ryan; M. Kavanagh, J.J. Delaney; R. Mullally, A. Cummins, S. Dowling; D. Lyng, P. Tennyson; C. Phelan, J. Hoyne, B. McEvoy; C. Carter (capt.), J. Coogan, D. Mackey. Subs: H. Shefflin for Hoyne, D.J. Carey for Lyng and E. Brennan for Coogan (second half).
Referee: M. Laverty (Galway).
*Attendance: 11,000 approx.