Tough league opener for Armagh

THE forthcoming National League campaign could potentially be the toughest Armagh’s gaelic footballers have faced in many years.

Still without Ronan Clarke, Steven McDonnell and the Crossmaglen players, a number of new faces are expected to be introduced to the side during the league campaign.

Four under 21 players, who included St Peter’s Aaron Findan and Paul McKenna from Clan na Gael, have been released from senior duty to join Paul McShane’s squad who have a Ulster date with reigning Ulster champions Cavan next month.

Armagh have a tough opener against Cork on Sunday at the Athletic Grounds.

There is however a renewed buzz amongst the fans following the return of Paul Grimley to the management team and the expectations are suggesting that a stern defensive system will be in place for the visit of the Leesiders.

In 2011 Armagh just about survived in division one, a scenario based on a technicality surrounding the county’s fixture against Monaghan.

But with crucial away games against both Kerry and Dublin in the pipeline home wins over Mayo and Down will be of paramount importance during the 2012 campaign

The once almost impregnable Athletic Grounds is one of the best venues in Ulster at present and the excellent surface could serve up a game on Sunday which could reach almost championship proportions.

Unlike with other counties Paddy O’Rourke will have to wait until player availability allows him to deal from a full deck.

In the meantime the players given the task of securing a first win of the new league season are well up to the task.

Cork, who have a few players nursing injuries, will also be below par but are one of the biggest sides in the game

Some supporters feel that the Munster side weren’t given enough praise for their All-Ireland win back in 2010, a victory which was suggested had been obtained by blood and thunder methods.

The Leesiders however also have good ball players particularly in the full forward section.

While many pundits would see Armagh as being the favourites to face the drop from division one, a first win of the season is a possibility on Sunday.