THIS Sunday’s Ulster final is certainly creating headlines before a ball is even thrown in with the unprecedented demand for match tickets certainly causing a stir amongst supporters from both counties.
The decision to play the game in Clones obviously carries some history, mystic and tradition behind it but this is 2023 – common sense and supply and demand should be priority. This isn’t like any other provincial title, Ulster is the only remaining province worth talking about.
Armagh have just made their first provincial decider in 15 years, the last time narrowly beating a Fermanagh side managed by Malachy O’Rourke after a replay. Indeed, it was only a few years before that final that Armagh against Tyrone in an Ulster final was nearly filling out Croke Park. Many would argue with the resurgence in Derry football and with Armagh’s fanatical supporter being starved for so long, that possibly Croke park would have been the better option.
Would the venue matter to the outcome of this game? I fully believe it would.
Derry have systematically become one of the best coached teams in the country and ithatis the sole reason they are now contesting provincial finals and being touted as possible contenders for All-Ireland glory. Their defensive stability is what stood them out early in Gallagher’s reign but over the last two seasons, and particularly early in this season, it has been the great variation and many facets to their offensive game that is particularly impressive.
Derry’s ability to attack in several different ways is very interesting but one factor is still evidently missing that will be needed to win games at Croke Park: that is the ability to mix the hard running game with a kicking game.
Kerry, albeit against lesser opposition in the Munster final, showed their capabilities to produce an exhibition in kick-passing that absolutely tore Clare’s defensive system apart.
Even without that kicking game Derry are still a formidable force, and how Armagh deal with the various attacking set plays will be very interesting.
Some of the most obvious attacking ploys they like to run are the depth in attack – do Armagh defend this so