FROM ODHRÁN CRUMLEY
ARMAGH VS FERMANAGH, ATHLETIC GROUNDS, 6:30PM
An all Ulster pairing in the first round of the qualifiers as the Athletic Grounds prepares to host its third game in two days. Fermanagh have been on the shelf for over a month, a direct consequence of losing the preliminary round to Monaghan on May 20th.
Armagh returns to action after losing out to arch rivals Down in the provincial quarter final on June 4th. The Orchard County’s lack of a clinical edge in front of goal allowed their counterparts to pick them off with relatively easy scores on the counterattack.
Fermanagh will play a similar style of football to Down, playing on the counter attack will have numbers behind the ball to protect their own goal. Armagh’s gung-ho approach last time out bordered on naivety as they allowed themselves to be countered time and time again.
McGeaney’s men will need more from their inside line if they are to advance further this summer, Campbell, Murnin and Clarke failing to step up to the mark when it really counted.
Pete McGrath on the other hand has the fortune of deploying both Quigley and Corrigan inside, the pair have caused problems to some of the meanest defences in the country. Both men are vital to the Ernesiders cause of causing a relative upset.
Armagh to this point hold an average score of twenty points compared to Fermanagh’s thirteen. While the Orchard men have an average concession of fifteen points a game compared to the Brewster Park men’s eighteen. However it is important here to note that Fermanagh played their spring football in Division Two compared to their opponent’s league campaign in Division Three.
Goals are sure to be crucial in this contest, both sides netting in their opening championship fixtures. The Monaghan goal last time out killed Fermanagh’s brave fight. While the concession of late goals was an Achilles heel for Armagh throughout the league a late Quinlivan goal denying them promotion.
Meath referee Cormac Reilly could have his hands full as tempers become frayed with the safety net of the qualifiers removed, every game from now on in, for both sides could spell the end of their season. That said Armagh should have enough up front to edge out a rugged Fermanagh side.
OFFALY VS CAVAN, O’CONNOR PARK, 6:30PM
Cavan may feel hard done by to be entering the qualifiers after their titanic battle with Monaghan. The game was firmly in the melting pot until the very last kick when the post denied the Breffni men a replay. They frustrated the life out of the Farney men throughout the entirety of the first half, kicking exceptional scores from distance.
Offaly exited the Leinster Championship after a replay loss to Westmeath. They can take heart from a draw, first time out but they were well beaten by a free scoring Westmeath side a week later.
Mattie McGleenan’s men enter the game as heavy favourites. They will enter the qualifier series harbouring ambitions of at least making it too Croke Park later in the summer.
Home advantage for the midlanders could make this more of a banana skin for the men in blue. Offaly have kept things tight at the back conceding an average of thirteen points a game, the Westmeath replay proving something of an anomaly.
Cavan spent the spring in Division One, giving a good account of themselves before ultimately being relegated. The Breffni men average two goals a game presently while Offaly haven’t conceded many to this point. The margin and manner of last week may have deflated the Offaly men. Expect Cavan to be too strong and run out comfortable winners.