Armagh stand the best chance of the four qualifiers in reaching an All-Ireland football semi-final and have been rewarded for their positive play, says Kevin McStay.

The Orchard County blitzed Donegal on Sunday, just eight weeks after their Ulster exit to the same opposition, and have been pitted against Galway in the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

Since taking over as Armagh manager in 2015, Kieran McGeeney has had more lows than highs, but the last 18 months has seen significant progress with expectations growing that they can have a serious say in the championship.

With Derry or Clare awaiting in a potential semi-final, hopes are rising that Armagh can reach a first final since the 2003 defeat to Tyrone, 12 months after their sole Sam Maguire success.

Looking ahead to the last eight, former Mayo footballer and Roscommon manager McStay thinks Armagh present a formidable challenge for the Tribesmen.

Stephen Sheridan scores Armagh's third goal against Donegal

"Of the four (qualifier) teams, Armagh look the most likely and have the best chance of success," he told the RTÉ GAA podcast, before heaping raise on the job being carried out by 2002 All-Ireland winning captain McGeeney.

"Preparation has met opportunity. That's the way I would look at that journey by McGeeney and Armagh. He’s got his best team out. They are in great shape.

"Beating Tyrone and following it week after with your nemesis Donegal, that means something serious. It really gives them a platform."

Key to their 3-17 to 0-18 win over Donegal was their front-foot play and intense press on the kick-outs. Their goal after 12 seconds, in claiming the throw-in and going route one, demonstrated the desire to feed the inside line as quickly as possible, while their second goal, was all about pressure on the Donegal restart.

Goalkeeper Shaun Patton was black-carded after another kick-out malfunction saw him haul down Aidan Nugent, conceding a penalty that Rian O’Neill buried past stand-in 'keeper Caolan McGonagle.

Their approach is a recipe for success according to McStay.

"Look at the mayhem it causes when you get that high turnover. For me it’s a no-brainer, yet you see so many teams conceding the kick-outs.

"It’s like you are saying, 'we don’t care if you have possession’. That is not a very good starting position in my book.

"It takes energy, I totally accept that and it takes discipline, whether it’s a zonal or man-to-man push up. It takes practice on the training ground, but Armagh executed it to a very high degree."

Listen to the RTÉ GAA Podcast at Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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