By Shaun Casey
A HUGE home support will be a major boost to Armagh this weekend when they host last year’s All-Ireland finalists Galway in a crunch league time at the BOX-IT Athletic Grounds.
It’s a repeat of last year’s sensational All-Ireland quarter-final meeting, which the Tribesmen edged after a penalty shootout. Armagh coach Kieran Donaghy believes that Galway have improved from last season, and they will once again be top contenders for the Sam Maguire.
Even with Ireland’s Grand Slam chase against England kicking off at the same time, a massive crowd is expected at this game.
“They’re moving very well; they’re showing the quality they have and why they were within two points of Kerry in an All-Ireland final last year up until a few minutes to go. They certainly looked to have improved.
“I think getting (Peter) Cooke in has been a huge thing for them. Obviously (Ian) Burke back from Corofin. They have strengthened an already really strong squad which is probably what you need to do when you’re trying to win an All-Ireland.
“We know how much of a contender they are this year and how serious of a team they are. It’s a great test for our fellas and a test that the result is really important in, so it means a lot. This game is going to carry a lot of weight and it’s going to have a lot going into it.
“I’m sure the Armagh crowd are going to come out in huge numbers for that one again because that game was a very tough loss for this group and this county last year. I know that they’ll be waiting to get them back at the Athletic Grounds and really get behind the team,” added the four-time All-Ireland winner.
“That’s what we’d be looking for as a playing group. The crowd, is going to be hugely important against this Galway team because they’ve got quality all over the place. Obviously, (Damien) Comer and Shane Walsh could be back, Rob Finnerty is back in now and moving really well.
“(Matthew) Tierney is having an unbelievable season, so they have a lot of the pieces that is within touching distance of an All-Ireland winning team. I know they didn’t get there last year but we all know how close they were.”
Although Donaghy cited Cooke’s return, he is suspended following his red card against Monaghan. Whatever team does appear, the Orchard coach said that they must be better.
“I’m sure our fellas will be looking forward to it. We have a lot of work to do. We know we’re not at ourselves yet but we’re working hard and we’re training hard and we’re sticking together as a group.”