High expectations for Friday night derby clash
Tuesday, 4 February 2014
EXPECTATIONS have risen ahead of Friday night's important clash between Armagh and Down after both sides battled back from the jaws of defeat to clinch a draw in the opening National League game on Sunday.
Armagh's Athletic Grounds is likely to be crammed for the late 8pm throw-in.
Down welcome back Kevin McKernan and Benny McArdle, who missed the weekend game against Monaghan due to suspension but Armagh don't expect to have many players to recover from injuries in time.
And Down boss James McCartan is looking forward to the challenge on Friday.
“We win the odd game but they seem to win the important ones - the Championship and a League Final in Croke Park," said McCartan.
“ And even when they were depleted a couple of years ago our results and performances against Armagh have been disappointing so it's another challenge for us."
And the Down boss is cautiously optimistic about getting a result against old rivals, especially after Sunday's second half rally against Monaghan and he is confident his players can improve.
“The conundrum is how do you bring the second-half performance for 70 minutes. That's what you have to figure out.
“These guys have solid games, they know they have areas they need to work on and certainly if they can turn those weaknesses into strengths, these new guys will be star performers."
McCartan still sees Division Two as a real challenge for Down this season saying: "No doubt. You drop down a division and the 2012 All-Ireland Champions drop with you and you have the Ulster Champions coming up with Meath.
“With local derby's in Ulster, and Louth over the road it's going to be a bit of a dog-fight, and that's the way it proved."
With pride and important league points at stake, Friday's game will be a contest that should excite.
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