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Friday 19 October 2018

Form favours Armagh - only just

Ulster SFC q-final Fermanagh v Armagh (Enniskillen, 7.0)

Sean Quigley. Photo: Sportsfile
Sean Quigley. Photo: Sportsfile

Fermanagh and Armagh know all about each other. Perhaps too much.

The league signals have been more than a little conflicted. When they met at Brewster Park in March, Armagh sealed promotion after coming from behind to achieve parity at 0-7 apiece.

"Definitely not one for the purists," admitted Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney afterwards.

A fortnight later, Armagh prevailed by 1-16 to 0-17 in their Division 3 final rematch at Croke Park.

Was the scoreboard transformation all down to a faster surface and more space? Fermanagh's Rory Gallagher seemed to agree, saying: "It was a totally different dynamic."

Likewise McGeeney, who suggested the relative lack of space here will "suit" Fermanagh's game.

"How we deal with that, and how individuals deal with that, will probably be the winning or losing of it," he surmised.

It's true that, since the return of the prodigal Gallagher, Fermanagh have become more compact in defence and a harder team to break down.

While they did leak seven goals in their regulation league campaign, the concession of 7-57 (78 points) was still the lowest across all four divisions if you exclude those Division 4 teams that only played six games.

Armagh, though, were almost as frugal (3-72) and more potent at the other end.

With the two Quigleys, Séamus and Seán, included up front, Fermanagh will quietly fancy an ambush. But the form graph still favours Armagh, albeit it could take extra-time.

ODDS: Fermanagh 2/1 Draw 7/1 Armagh 4/7

VERDICT: Armagh

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