Armagh have psychological edge for replay

Dublin is smothered in cloud today but come 4.30pm the red-hot pairing of Armagh and Tyrone will thunder back into action at Croke Park in a red-hot Ulster SFC final replay that is almost too close to call.

Dublin is smothered in cloud today but come 4.30pm the red-hot pairing of Armagh and Tyrone will thunder back into action at Croke Park in a red-hot Ulster SFC final replay that is almost too close to call.

Two weeks ago, the late double whammy of Steven McDonnell's goal and Paul McGrane's point saw the reigning champions Armagh come from behind to rescue a 2-8 to 0-14 draw in the first game.

2003 All-Ireland winners Tyrone, mainly thanks to Stephen O'Neill's ten-point haul, looked to have been coasting to another Anglo-Celt Cup success back then, and psychologically, Joe Kernan's Armagh would seem to have the edge now.

Amazingly, this is the Orchard men's 14th outing since the dawning of the NFL back in early February, but both manager and players insist their hunger for Ulster and All-Ireland success knows no bounds.

Kernan has not completed his starting line-up just yet - Paddy McKeever faces a late fitness test for the number 10 shirt, with Martin O'Rourke, who started the drawn game, to deputise if he fails.

Armagh's two definite changes see Philip Loughran included for the injured John Toal (knee) at midfield, and John McEntee, a starter on the 2002 All-Ireland final side, replacing his twin brother Tony at centre half-forward.

Tyrone boss Mickey Harte has made just one change - replacing John Devine with the experienced Pascal McConnell, who has fought out a sternum injury. The return to fitness of five-time All-star Peter Canavan, who was hauled off with rib and shoulder injuries at half-time a fortnight ago, should provide the Red Hands with some much-needed inspiration.

Captain Brian Dooher knows that, truthfully, his side let Armagh off the hook by some late, lax defending last time out, and despite playing the better football for longer periods, Tyrone need to step it up again.

"We played well in the first game, and Armagh didn't, and they will feel that they can play better. But we must feel that we can improve as well, otherwise we won't get a result," explained Clann na nGael clubman Dooher this week.

"Armagh will definitely improve, so we have to improve more. That's what we have got to do. The team that gets out of jail generally does better - the team that gets the draw does that extra bit of work and improves that bit more."

In front of a crowd of 40,000-plus, something and someone will have to give. The winners of today's replay will return to headquarters for an All-Ireland quarter-final against a fourth round qualifier winner on August 13.

ARMAGH (SFC v Tyrone): P Hearty; A Mallon, F Bellew, E McNulty; A Kernan, K McGeeney (capt), A O'Rourke; P Loughran, P McGrane; AN Other, J McEntee, O McConville; S McDonnell, R Clarke, B Mallon.

TYRONE: P McConnell; R McMenamin, C Lawn, S Sweeney; D Harte, G Devlin, P Jordan; C Gormley, S Cavanagh; B Dooher (capt), B McGuigan, M Penrose; P Canavan, S O'Neill, E McGinley.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.