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Oisin McConville Column

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

It is a good and bad week for Down to be playing because the Mourne men can take heart from Fermanagh's win over Monaghan while Donegal have been given the alarm call if any was needed about underrating Down.
Donegal have suffered from complacency before and they won't want to get caught.
I feel it is a game that Down can realistically win and I don't think they need to fear what Donegal bring to the table. I think the Donegal defence is nowhere near as good as they were when they won the All-Ireland and reach the Final. They can be got at and if Connaire Harrison and Donal O'Hare are on form and are given quality ball they can punish Donegal.
And then there's Shay Millar who can pounce, win ugly ball but be skilful with it too and take scores. Kevin McKernan has been excellent at running from deep and Caolan Mooney can make those blistering runs we all know he is capable off and should they do that then they have a chance.
But they need to go for it. It isn't a game Down need to stand by a system if the game starts to run away from them and there is no point breaking the shackles when the game is gone.
Whether Down can finish the game out and win is the big question but they can cause this Donegal team problems.
I think the Ulster Final everyone wants to see is Down v Fermanagh, because you'll have a team who hasn't won it since 1994 against a team chasing their first ever Ulster title.
It is in Down's hands and it is up to the players to go out and deliver. Donegal will be cagey, which should allow the Mourne men to show their teeth and have a go.
Armagh have the chance to get their season back on track and salvage something from the Championship when they take on Westmeath in Mullingar.
While we have been hearing reports that Westmeath are in disaray, therein lies the difficulty for Armagh. They are taking on a team that has nothing to lose, no expectations and any team that feels they have been written off are dangerous and the Orchard men can expect a response.
I still expect Armagh to come through and win. Perhaps Sunday's result may put Armagh's defeat to Fermanagh into some sort of perspective but the Orchard players need to put on a performance because how they played in Brewster Park was poor in the extreme.
Do people really think that Kieran McGeeney isn't preparing the team in the right way?
I am pretty sure there is a lot of work goes into the background and maybe something they can be over thinking it, but generally it doesn't matter how you prepare for a game if the players go out and fail to perform.
Players have to perform on big occasions, that's the nature of the game and it always will be. Armagh have been poor in the Ulster Championship in recent years but we have seemed to be able to find a little bit extra in the Qualifiers. So Saturday is massive for us, because if Armagh win in Mullingar then they will have momentum.
At this moment and time all Armagh need is a win. The games are coming thick and fast and that's what players want. If we can get over this game then we don't know what can happen and while it seems a long way away, we have got to be targeting the Super 8. It is amazing how one win can change the thinking and the fortunes of a team.
On Friday Armagh U20 face Tyrone in the Athletic Grounds and they Orchard lads need to deliver a performance. Tyrone will be a much tougher test than Fermanagh but if they can take their scores then they have a chance. I saw Derry U20 beat Donegal and they look a great outfit and Down will need to pull off a special performance on Sunday to get past them. I enjoyed how they played against Antrim.
And finally I would like to congratulate Down camogs on their Ulster title win and Armagh Ladies on reaching the Ulster Final.

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