by Rory Houston
Armagh and Tyrone meet in a heavyweight clash in the Ulster Football Championship on Sunday and with the Red Hands steady start to the year rocked in the last few weeks, there is renewed hope for the Orchard County.
Kyle Coney, Ronan O'Neill, Tommy McGuigan and Sean Cavanagh head a worrying injury list for Mickey Harte’s side and suddenly the side that look so composed and assured in the Allianz League has a different reflection.
Peter Harte will line out in the half-forward line with Conor Gormley in at half-back. Brian McGuigan has answered a plea from Harte to boost the squad and he will surely play some part from the substitute bench in the Morgan Athletic Grounds.
Focus turns on Peter Harte, Ronan McNabb and Aidan McCrory to really prove they have what it takes in a daunting venue and with Armagh unlikely to lie down at any stage.
It is heartening for Armagh fans to hear such bluntness from Malachy Mackin as the game approaches. He feels the midfield battle will decide Sunday’s game.
He told the Belfast Telegraph: “It’s up to us as players to put a stop to the dominance that Tyrone have had over us in the Championship in recent years.
“There will be no hiding place on Sunday. Midfield is a key area and we are certainly up for the challenge.”
Mackin and Kieran Toner take their place in the middle of the field and it will be intriguing tussle with Joe McMahon and Colm Cavanagh.
But for all that Tyrone have lost, Stevie McDonnell’s absence will be felt just as hard by the home side and the Red Hand are better set to cope with the strength they have in the forward line.