Armagh hurlers begin their championship campaign this Saturday when they play host to Dún na nGall at 3.30pm in the Athletic Grounds. Armagh enter this Nicky Rackard Cup game as hot favourites following their historic league win and promotion, having overcome Christy Ring sides Wicklow, Meath and Down in the league final.
Donegal meanwhile have had a difficult year so far, with a number of their key players out through injury, failing to pick up a win in Division 2B and losing the relegation play-off to last year’s Nicky Rackard champions Roscommon. In the league fixture this year, however, Donegal put it up to the Orchardmen for large periods of the game before Armagh’s fitness brought them through to give them a good win and platform for the rest of their league campaign.
Armagh will be hoping that some of their top performers over the league campaign maintain their form with Artie McGuinness, Shea Gaffney and Kieran McKernan producing some fine hurling in recent games. Stevie Renaghan will also be hoping to reproduce the form he showed in the league final and up front Cahal Carvill, Ryan Gaffney and Conor Corvan will look to maintain their threat in the forward line. Donegal will look to the likes of Lee Henderson, Ciaran Matthewson and Bernard Lafferty to help them cause an upset in the Athletic Grounds on Saturday, something which they almost achieved in last year’s Nicky Rackard cup.
With league momentum favouring Armagh and the memories of last year’s cruel defeat in the Nicky Rackard final acting as added motivation, it is hard to look beyond a home win. But the team are under no illusions and they know that Donegal will be gunning for a side who they have performed well against in the last couple of years, as they hope to get their season back on track. The match at the Athletic Grounds throws in at 3.30pm on Saturday 23 April and all supporters are welcome to come down and cheer on our hurlers. Ard Mhacha abú.