Gaa: It Will Be Nip and Tuck but Armagh Can Nick It

Article excerpt

Byline: Jackie Cahill

THE big one - Armagh bidding for a 12th Ulster title, Tyrone seeking their 11th. Local bragging rights, fierce footballing rivalry.

The bookies favour Armagh and Joe Kernan's men certainly like turning out at Croke Park.

They simply demolished Wexford in this year's Allianz National League final and if they reach those same scintillating heights again, Tyrone will struggle to live with the pace.

They reserved their best performance of 2004 for HQ - that fantastic display against Donegal in an historic Ulster final.

12 months on, the big worry from an Armagh perspective is the amount of big games they've been involved in recently.

The Orchard County came through a preliminary match against Fermanagh, needed two games against Donegal and then beat Derry. This is Armagh's fifth Championship game already this summer - Kerry play only their second when they contest a provincial final tomorrow.One school of thought suggests that Armagh will be hard beaten because they're battle-hardened.

The other view is with such a hectic fixtures schedule, they're bound to get caught some time soon.

Tyrone too are in the thick of it. It's their fourth Championship outing tomorrow, coming on the back of a seven point win against Down and a comprehensive replay battering of Cavan.

Remarkably, this is the first time that Armagh and Tyrone have met in the Ulster final since 1984. And this is the money-spinner Ulster Council chiefs were banking on.

Their coffers should swell to the tune of A1.5m tomorrow night. On the pitch, there are individual battles to savour everywhere you look. The highlight should be the showdown between Francie Bellew, as hard as they come and Tyrone sharpshooter Stephen O'Neill.

At the other end, Armagh fans will be looking for a massive game from Steven McDonnell - who has failed to spark in the Championship after a massive league campaign. …