By Shaun Casey
LAST year’s clash with Mayo was Ethan Rafferty’s first competitive game between the sticks for Armagh, and he’s held a tight grip on the number one jersey ever since that game played in Roscommon.
Mayo were the first team to overcome the Orchard County in last year’s league, following early victories over Dublin and Tyrone along with a round three draw with Monaghan.
Armagh got their 2023 league campaign up and running last Saturday evening, seeing off the Farney County by two points, and revenge may be on their mind when they host Mayo this weekend.
“Mayo have been at the top tier for the last 10 or 15 years, so we have a big job ahead of us over the next six or seven days,” said Rafferty, who made his 80th Armagh appearance last weekend.
“We are under no illusions that it is going to be tough, we had a good game against them last year and they came away with the points at the end.
“We will try to go one better this year, but we will take the next 24 hours to relax and get the recovery done and look at things on Tuesday night.
“Last year we could have, should have maybe (won). We’ll use it maybe as to how they set up and what went wrong for us, but we won’t worry about what happened last year now.”
Rafferty did keep a clean sheet against the Westerners in 2022, and slotted over a score against Monaghan last Saturday, although he is very much still learning the ropes in terms of goalkeeping.
“It was going to be a tough enough one tonight and so it was,” added the Grange clubman.
“We were poor in the first half, there was a lot of unforced errors and wides, then we started off well in the second half, then let them back into it.
“So, I am just happy to get a big two points, that’s all we were hoping for.”
“The outfield stuff maybe comes a wee bit more naturally, but I am still trying to work on my kick-outs.
“I know I had one or two bad kick-outs, we lost three kick-outs tonight and we want to be lower than that but I am happy the numbers are coming down in terms of kick-outs.
“They were a bit more pressurised because Monaghan try to press you, so I just try and keep working on those things.”