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Can Armagh do an 'Inniskeen' on Monaghan?

Austin O'Callaghan | 14:49 UK time, Wednesday, 2 June 2010

If you are a manager, you look for and take every single advantage or edge over your opponents that you can get.

Some Monaghan supporters are still scratching their heads as to why Sunday's game with Armagh is in west Belfast.

But to me, there is no mystery about the choice of venue. It was, after all, Armagh's call (in consultation with the Ulster Council). It is their 'home' game.

Paddy O'Rourke's Armagh play Seamus McEnaney's Monaghan at Casement Park in west Belfast

Farney fans might consider Inniskeen. Tyrone were taken there back in March, and it wasn't for the poetry.

It was one of Monaghan's 'alternative' home venues in the National League.

Yes, the local GAA club there deserved a big day out for the work done on its excellent ground. But it's hard to imagine Seamus McEnaney having had too many objections to bringing Tyrone into unfamiliar territory.

Monaghan won the match. It is perhaps the main reason they are still in Division One next year.

Armagh's home pitch in Ulster Championship football for the last 12 years has been Clones. The venue has been good to them - and they've been good to it.

But, if they can avoid playing Monaghan there, they will. Sunday's opponents been one of the few teams to give Armagh some trouble at St Tiernach's Park.

As All-Ireland champions, Joe Kernan's side came a cropper there in 2003 against a Monaghan team managed by Colm Coyle. Mind you, Armagh did recover to reach the All Ireland final that September.

More recently, there was a fairly ignominious exit from the qualifiers after extra-time last July.

It was the day Steven McDonnell received a red card which left him questioning his appetite to continue in intercounty football. Armagh fans will be glad he went to that U2 concert! I have a feeling motivation won't be a problem for the Killeavy man this weekend.

The silence in the Monaghan camp in the run-up to this game has been deafening. No media night - no song and dance. That's not a criticism - just an observation.

In fact, Seamus McEnaney and his players look to be driven men for this Ulster Championship.

This is year six for Banty in the bainisteoir's bib. While he won't admit it publicly, he has absolutely no interest in moral victories or back doors this year.

Monaghan think they will win on Sunday. Too many of this current team have put their lives on hold again for one last assault on the Ulster title. And that's what they're after. It's either going to be the front door or the exit door for the manager and senior players this time around.

Add Paul Grimley's tactical brain into the mix and it's certain that Armagh will have move up a level, possibly sooner than they might have planned, if they want to win here.

These two teams will get stuck into one another from the throw-in. And I mean that in both the footballing and the physical sense.

Jarlath Burns had us laughing in studio last week when describing on commentary a fairly tedious passage of play during the Donegal-Down game. He wondered out loud if there was anything better to watch on BBC One.

Viewers will have understood exactly what he meant. But I suspect they won't go anywhere near the remote come two o'clock this Sunday.

Prediction: Extra-time won't separate them. And there'll be about 50 talking points afterwards.


  • Comment number 1.

    Armagh to win by 2 points but it will be a very nervous finish

  • Comment number 2.

    The commentation on this game today was a disgrace. Did the commentators even know how to say the name 'Monaghan'????? completely one-sided.... impossible to listen to.

  • Comment number 3.

    This was a great game.

    We had the family around and watched it while having a few drinks and followed up with a drink.

    As already stated though, the commentary on the coverage was poor and really i think it puts a smaller scale on things, hopefully it will be sorted for next time they meet.


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