Derry will be looking to reach their first provincial final since 2000 when they take on Armagh in Clones in the Ulster Senior football Championship semi final. John Brennan’s side lost that decider 11 years ago to this weekend’s opponents by a single point and have gone on to lose 7 semi finals in Ulster since.
The two sides met last year in the preliminary round with Armagh edging a closer encounter by 3 points with Armagh holding the upper hand at the moment winning 4 of their last 5 matches although very little has separated the team with four points the biggest margin of victory.
Another close encounter is expected on Sunday although with Armagh having disposed of last year’s All Ireland finalists Down on route to this showdown they will start the game as favourites. Paddy O’Rourke has kept faith with the fifteen that secured a 5 point win over Down, meaning Brian Mallon is once again consigned to the bench.
Armagh will again be looking to Jamie Clarke, who scored 1-2 against Down and Aaron Kieran who kicked over 5 points as the Orchard County came from a point down to score 7 of the last 8 scores and seal a fine win.
Clarke has received much praise from his performances over the last two years with Joe Kernan recently saying that the forward could become the next Gooch and Armagh will be hoping for another big showing up front against Derry.
Derry meanwhile secured their place in the last four with a 1-18 to 1-10 win over Fermanagh in Celtic Park with much of the damage done in a blistering opening 35 minutes that saw Brennan’s side head in at the whistle 1-12 to 0-02 up. Eoin Bradley scored 1-02 that day with Gerard O’Kane, Joe Driver and Conleth Gilligan all impressing in a dominant performance.
O’Kane will be missing for Derry with the defender suffering a thigh injury whilst on duty for this club, his place will be taking by Brian Og McAlary with Barry McGoldrick assuming the captaincy.
At stake for the winners is a final against either Donegal or Tyrone.
Armagh: P Hearty; A Mallon, B Donaghy, K Dyas; A Kernan, C McKeever, P Duffy; K Toner, C Vernon; T Kernan, BJ Padden, M Mackin; M O’Rourke, S McDonnell, J Clarke.
Derry: Danny Devlin, Sean McGoldrick, Kevin McCloy, Dermot McBride, Brian McAlary, Charlie Kielt, Michael Bateson, Joe Diver, Michael Friel, Mark Lynch, Cailean O’Boyle, Barry McGoldrick, Enda Muldoon, Eoin Bradley, Conleth Gilligan.
Sportsnewsireland.com will have live score updates on all GAA Championship matches over the summer.