by James McMahon
After a disappointing showing against Derry in the provincial semi-final, Armagh will be looking to make amends on home soil against Wicklow.
Paddy O’Rourke has had three weeks to prepare his side for this encounter – enough time you would have thought after the listless display against the Oakleafers.
Only for a brief period after half-time did Armagh look in any way cohesive – a marked contrast to the passion and desire they showed when accounting for Down at the end of May.
Mick O’Dwyer, now in his final year of inter-county management, will want to keep the bandwagon rolling on. His team were poor against Kildare in the Leinster championship, but upped their work rate considerably to see off Sligo a fortnight ago.
Tony Hannon and Leighton Glynn led the way brilliantly, and 18-year Conor McGraynor, introduced late on, contributed 1-01 to seal a workmanlike victory.
In 2009, the Garden county had a profitable run through the qualifiers, with fine victories on their home turf in Aughrim. How will they respond now that they have to travel and face an Armagh side desperate to put on a good show in front of their own supporters?
Micko feels his side are as good as any team involved in Saturday's do or die battles and reckons that the win over Sligo has given his charges an extra pep in their step.
Paddy O'Rourke, for his part, is wary of the Wicklow challenge and highlights their full-forward line as a sector that could cause damage.
The home side will have to do without midfielder Kieran Toner after he picked up a hamstring injury in a club game.
Their self belief may be dented, but a comprehensive win for the home side could reignite their summer. However, you can’t say with much confidence that such an outcome will happen especially against a side managed by a Kerryman who will have his troops well marshalled.
The greater experience of Armagh may be required to get them through this tricky encounter.