Armagh head into unknown territory says Devlin

By Shaun Casey

ARMAGH are taking a step into the unknown this weekend, according to joint-captain Ciarrai Devlin.

The Orchard County are off to Dromara to face near neighbours Down (their second string), a pairing that hasn’t popped up that often in recent times.

In fact, Armagh haven’t faced the Mourne ladies since easily dispatching Down 2-25 to 0-7 in the 2022 All-Ireland Premier Junior Championship and another victory this weekend would extend their winning streak.

“It’s a bit of an unknown,” said Armagh goalkeeper Devlin. “Tyrone played them and overcame them, so you just don’t know what to expect with the second-string teams, you never know what’s going to turn up.

“We’re just going to bring our own style of play and work hard and hopefully then we’ll come out on top on Saturday. We were very apprehensive about playing Tyrone because we heard they were doing really good things.”

The Orchard County have been in excellent form so far this season and backed up their Division Three and Ulster Championship winning campaigns with a 16-point triumph over Tyrone in the opening round of the All-Ireland series.

“They’re a bit like us, they stormed through their own league and Ulster, and we didn’t know what to really expect. We were down a few key players as well that day, but we put in a really good performance.

“It was tough conditions with the breeze, but we got out with a win, and we were really pleased with that and looking forward to this weekend now against Down.”

Looking ahead to the remaining fixtures against Down, Tipperary and Wicklow, Devlin believes it’s vitally important to rack up as many points as possible.

“It’s so crucial to do well in these group stages. Obviously, three teams advance so there is that security and plenty of opportunities to secure a place.

“But it’s all about where you place and that dictates who you play in the latter stages of the championship. We want to be getting all those wins in to make sure that we have as easy a route as possible to come through and hopefully reach an All-Ireland final.”

In their last two games, the Ulster Intermediate final victory over Antrim and the tie with Tyrone the last day out, Sean Hughes’ side have smashed home nine goals, which is no surprise to Devlin.

Given the strength and range of scorers Armagh have in their forward line, which Devlin faces every night in training, their goal-scoring return is high.

“We have serious threats up front,” added the Granemore shot-stopper.

“When you have a full-forward line of Ciara Geoghegan, Jennifer Curry and Rachael Merry, that’s a dream full-forward line. Then Sinead Quinn has been absolutely outstanding this year.

“Add in the addition of Eimear O’Kane in the forward line, who works so hard, and Niamh Forker, who’s an excellent distributor of the ball. That’s a serious forward line and it’s showing on the scoreboard.”

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