Tyrone v Armagh, 4pm, Saturday, Croke Park
Tyrone and Armagh will go head to head in the first quarter final this weekend at Croke Park, with both sides looking for an All-Ireland semi-final place where they will potentially play Dublin. Both sides had different Ulster campaigns with Armagh losing out to Down in their first game of the championship, while Tyrone lifted the Ulster title for a second successive year by beating the Mourne County in the Ulster Final last month. So, going on that basis you would think Tyrone have the edge coming into the game.
However, I don’t think they do have the edge. Armagh and Tyrone games in the past have been great tough and close encounters, who is to say this game wont be as well. Kieran McGeeney has played in many of those games so he will know what Mickey Harte’s side will bring in terms of physicality, speed and power. Armagh had a good win over Kildare last weekend in the qualifiers which will surely spur them on here, they have some absolutely superb footballers as well most notably Jamie Clarke, who kicked five points in that win. They do however have players like Niall Grimley, Brendan Donaghy, Andrew Murnin and Stefan Campbell, while Rory Grugan has also impressed in games to date.
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte will know this game will be defensive and he would have planned for that this week in training, Colm Cavanagh will be key for him as he tends to sit back on the 21 yard line to fetch ball. However, players like Peter Harte, Sean Cavanagh, Mark Bradley and Tiernan McCann can have all big say on the outcome of this game and if Tyrone are to win they will all need to be on top form in what will be a low scoring game in my opinion. If the game does open Tyrone will win by a fair bit, but I can see it been very nervy and defensive.
Tyrone are favourites at 2/9 and that is understandable seen they did go all the way and win an Ulster title. Armagh are outsiders at 4/1 but they will fancy their chances of causing an upset. However, I think the Tyrone system will overpower them on Saturday and they will be to good for Kieran McGeeney’s charges and win by 3 or 4 points.