The Athletic Grounds will host an All-Ireland semi-final this Saturday when Armagh senior hurlers host Donegal in the Nicky Rackard Cup. Armagh go into the game having beaten Louth and Tyrone already in their championship campaign. Donegal, meanwhile, suffered defeat to the Red Hand side in the first round, but racked up big scores in defeating Longford and Monaghan to reach the semi-final. Armagh and Donegal have already met in the Athletic Grounds this year in Division 2B of the Allianz League, with the Orchard county eventually coming out on top 1-18 to 2-10 after a fairly close encounter.
Armagh senior hurling captain, John Corvan spoke about Armagh’s performance so far, “The campaign has got off to a good start overall. As expected, we have been made to battle the whole way in both games against Louth and Tyrone and it will be no different this weekend. Although we have played well in patches, I don’t think we have quite reached the performance level that we know we are capable of, so we will be looking to improve on that. We will be expecting a tough physical encounter again this weekend and it will come down to who wants it the most. We are looking forward to it and know that only a big performance will help us get the result we need, so the focus will be very much on getting a performance on Saturday.”
Speaking in the lead-up to the game, Armagh vice-captain Kieran McKernan spoke of the sides’ most recent encounter, “We played Donegal in the league and it was a very physical affair. They are a big strong team and will be very hard to beat on Saturday. But it’s a game that the whole team is looking forward to and everyone is fully focused on the challenge that Donegal will bring. It may be seen to be a bit of an advantage for Armagh that it is a home draw for us, but knowing Donegal, they won’t see it that way. We don’t really look at it as an advantage; it’s another game15 v 15 and it will be the team that wants it the most who will come out on top.”
Armagh’s defence must be on guard this Saturday if they are to prevail, with Donegal scoring a total of ten goals in their last two games, but they should also have learned plenty about the men from the north-west in their league encounter earlier this year. We wish Sylvester, Pádraig, Gabriel, John, Eoin and all of the players the very best of luck against Dún na nGall on Saturday. Guíonn muid gach rath ar an fhoireann bainistíochta agus ar na h-imreoirí uilig dé Sathairn. We encourage as many supporters as possible to come down to the Athletic Grounds on Saturday and support our senior hurlers in their bid to reach the All-Ireland final. Ard Mhacha abú!