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Nugent: Armagh will not approach McKenna Cup half-heartedly

By Shaun Casey

ARMAGH joint-captain Aidan Nugent believes the McKenna Cup will provide some players within the Orchard panel a chance to show their worth ahead of the upcoming National League campaign.

Kieran McGeeney’s men are grouped with Cavan and Tyrone in the preseason competition, before taking on Dublin in their Division One opener at the end of January.

“You’re just building towards the first round of the league,” said Nugent, who has fully recovered from an ACL injury picked up in 2020 and will now share the cpataincy with Rian O’Neill.

“It’s just building towards the last week in January. A few new lads in the panel and a few lads need minutes like me, a few boys coming back from injury. So, it’ll be good to get another 60 or 70 minutes under the belt.

“Everyone there is pushing for a place so it’s just a matter of boys getting their chance, putting their hands up. If you’re in the panel, you’re in with a shout of getting a starting 15 jersey. If you get your chance you have to put your hand up and seize it.”

Armagh recently took on their old rivals Tyrone in a charity game and now meet the Red Hands in both the McKenna Cup and the National League.

“They’re a top side, they went and won the All-Ireland so as I’ve said before, if you want to be winning Ulsters and more, you want to challenge yourself against the best.

“If we like it or not, they won the All-Ireland and they’re the best in Ireland.

“You pit yourself against them and at the end of the game you know where you stand. It’s good to get them games week in, week out.”

Cavan will offer the first challenge of the new season, when the pair face off in Kingspan Breffni this evening.

“I know Cavan have dropped down the divisions but they’re still there or thereabouts in Ulster, so they’re another serious side.

“I suppose Covid didn’t really help, it’s hard to read into that (Cavan’s relegation to Division Four). I know they fell maybe three divisions but listen, there were two messed up years there. Cavan are no worse team than they were two years ago.

“They got to an All-Ireland semi-final two years ago so looking at it from the outside, they’ve done better than we have in the last few years. We’ll be up for it, and we’ll not be going in half-hearted.”

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