RTÉ GAA analyst Joe Brolly believes that Armagh are breathing new life into Northern football and are spearheading a move away from the defensive game.

Armagh were unfortunate not to gain promotion from Division 3 of the league, finishing in third place and losing out to promoted Tipperary with a final kick of the game this year, but Brolly has seen enough from Orchard County this year to be excited.

There’s a real attacking flair in Armagh now and even old heads like Oisín McConville are talking up the county's chances this season.

Kieran McGeeney's men travel to Páirc Esler to get their Ulster Championship campaign underway against Down, a side who have also begun to show more of an attacking flair and it’s a game that Brolly is relishing.

"I’m really looking forward to it," Brolly told RTÉ Sport. "Armagh are a classic illustration of the way football has to go. After their abysmal defensive football that they played for the first few years under Kieran McGeeney they then switched.

"They switched to man-to-man attacking football and they have played fantastic attacking football this year. They’ve got a really good forward line, a Division One forward line.

"A mark of it was when they beaten so unfortunately with the last kick of the game against Tipperary to get promoted to Division Two, the Armagh crowd waited until after the warm-down and gave them a standing ovation off the pitch.

"I’d be delighted to see Armagh winning but I’m really looking forward to seeing them play."

"There’s a real buzz about Armagh football again, there’s a freedom with the way they are playing and you have to give credit to Kieran.

"The penny is going to have to drop with teams like Derry who had 300 people going to Celtic Park last week from Derry. It’s no good, we don’t expect them to the win the All Ireland but we want a shared journey and a bit of excitement.

"You have to give credit to Armagh that they’ve seen that now and the penny has dropped. They’ve had brilliant crowds this year and there’s a huge buzz in the county."

Brolly also believes that positive changes are being implemented at Down although he conceded that they’re probably a few months behind Armagh in their development.

"The interesting thing about Down is that they have experimented with that same abysmal football over the last three or four years, then they came up to Celtic Park and I thought they were excellent against Derry.

"Now we’d make anyone look like they’re in their golden years at the minute but they played very well and they led 1-10 to 0-00 after 29 minutes in perfect conditions.

"They are a bit more defensive and I suppose the big issue is that they’ve only been at this for a very short time, whereas McGeeney deliberately made the decision in the offseason to go man-to-man and to play attacking football.

"I’d be delighted to see Armagh winning but I’m really looking forward to seeing them play."